Winner of the 1995 Akron Poetry Prize
Winner of the 1997 Norma Farber First Book Award, Poetry Society of America
Her Slender Dress, the first volume of poetry to win the Akron Poetry Prize, follows Virginia Woolf’s advice to women writers: to move out of the sitting room and into reality. The staccato, often fragmented, syntax of these poems is an attempt to recreate an attitude of perception in which the postmodern female is “assaulted” by various stimuli with the dizzying speed made possible by the electronic age. The world now happens faster than it can possibly be integrated into an individual consciousness.
The postmodern American reality for women consists of a society in which the confrontation with “the streets” (including drug abuse, sexual or physical abuse) can be as immediate, as influential as the previous zone of power and comfort, “home.”
But motherhood and marriage continue in importance, despite the changing cultural expectations. The title, taken from Blake’s “Little Girl Lost” of the “Songs of Innocence,” reflects the essential and unifying element of this book: Her Slender Dress is more than a Vogue magazine cover, but may be interpreted as Blake’s simple, elegant image of female corporeality. And it is from the physical body, the slender dress, that both the pain and the joy of being female emanate.
There is no let-up in the linguistic intensity, imagistic intensity, or narrative intensity. The spirit of the word-warrior is in this writer. Its aura surrounds each one of these poems, creating a mesmerizing and disturbing book out of a deep and iron-bound necessity.
Susan Yuzna’s Her Slender Dress is a breathtaking and memorable debut. These are poems of such clarity, such harrowing self-reckoning, that the reader–like the poet herself–emerges bruised but triumphant. Beautifully and powerfully written, Her Slender Dress instantly places Susan Yuzna among the finest poets of her generation.
—David St. John