The End of the World and Other Poems

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They take just two classes at a time: workshops and craft class. Many are taught in the evenings so those who work full-time can attend. Some, like Smith and Foer, find the house so cozy that they have written some of their books there. Her debut collection, Orchidelirium, came out in Her new collection, Soft Targets, is coming out on April Writing about the female body, though, as Landau has been doing, often gets shorter shrift than it warrants.

She is steeped in the subtle politics of desire and domesticity and gender; can she retain that level of nuance when she takes on issues that are often flattened out into black and white, us and them? Landau finished these poems, which make up Soft Targets , after the attack on Bastille Day , in an intense day burst—not her usual working method. These are poems for a world in which there is no safety.

But then the poem rushes outward—we, the innocent, are soft targets, but even bin Laden was a soft target to his attackers. Landau has always written about the vulnerabilities of the body, often with an erotic charge. At a recent event at the Bowery Poetry Club, before reading from her new book, Landau gave a sense of her past work by reading a bit of a poem from The Uses of the Body :.

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One summer there was no girl left in me. It gradually became clear. It suddenly became. In the pool, I was more heavy than light.

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Pockmarked and flabby in a floppy hat. What will my body be when parked all night in the earth? What is new, though, in Soft Targets is that sudden opening-out, not only of the scope of the poems, from I to you to a city to the world , but also of theme.

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Her previous work was about private vulnerabilities; Soft Targets is about the fragility of every body in a world of terrorism and climate change and simple, slow human mortality. Toward the end of that first book, though, she found her real form: the linked lyric sequence. The forms and the concerns of her poems grew in complexity at the same time. That Tuesday morning, September 11, Landau told me, she was pregnant with her second child and dropping her three-year-old son off at nursery school downtown; they were on a bus and people started screaming, and they saw a plane hit the tower.

It is the imagination pressing back against the pressure of reality. When I asked Landau about this line, she mockingly imitated herself trying to reason with a terrorist. The early poems in Soft Targets are full of people fractured from each other by both fear and indifference. In many stories of illness, the sufferer falls sick all of a sudden, and illness is experienced as a radical break with their previous life.

Landau, too, seems to have never felt a feeling of safety into which danger breaks. She grew up knowing that most of the people in her family photos had been killed in the Holocaust. Landau writes about this family history for the first time in Soft Targets , starting a section about her grandmother with the lines:.

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Frankfurt, , Oma was a soft target got her soft the fuck out of there. Adding to this sense of threat, when Landau was only six, her mother—a University of Michigan philosophy professor with whom Landau was very close—was diagnosed with the lymphoma that would kill her more than 20 years later. But she did not see how it could be a career.

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Her professor mother and nephrologist father pushed her to achieve; as a child, she had to practice the violin for an hour every day, which she hated. But Landau also pushed herself; she started dance before she was even in kindergarten, and she was in a professional modern dance company before she even graduated high school.

Even during her PhD, she continued to perform with dance companies in New York. Becoming an English professor seemed a practical goal, one of which her parents could even approve, but Landau still hoped for a future in dance. Then one day, when she was 26, Landau fell and injured herself, and that was the end of her career in dance. They had been written between the early s to the late s. His publisher, HarperCollins, and his surviving family had not known that the author, best known for his long-running Aubrey-Maturin series of maritime novels that began with Master and Commander, was such a prolific poet.

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However, he had not seen most of the poems until HarperCollins approached him this year. He wanted to be a poet from a very young age. He was a meticulous writer, one who enjoyed writing short stories, and I think encapsulating his thoughts in a small compass appealed to him. In her diaries, my mother mentions reading the poems and liking them very much, which encouraged him. But there was no attempt, to the best of my knowledge, to collect them.

It is rather mysterious. HarperCollins called the discovery a complete surprise. Patrick had always been interested in publishing his poetry, and we know he had a conversation with his agent in the s about collecting some, but nothing came of it. He also had a particular fascination with the natural world and wildlife, and many poems focus on the birds and wildlife in the mountains of Wales, and also the landscape in Collioure, where he lived for 50 years. Some are mundane — there is one where he rails against noisy neighbours, something we can all relate to — some are humorous, some are empathetic.

But in all of them, you get a real sense of Patrick and all the different facets of his personality.

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But for most of his life, he would have been focusing on the Aubrey-Maturin books, as he would have been under contract. But his diaries show that even the sale of a single poem gave him great joy — so it is nice to be able to reveal so many to his readers. Farewell, my sin, I have enjoyed you Food, drink and women: there are chains.