The Second Body

Claire Donato

Following her genre-bending novella Burial, Claire Donato’s first full-length collection of poems The Second Body meditates on love, language, animals, science, and death. An independent digital arts curator at Babycastles Gallery in Manhattan and Visiting Assistant Professor in the Architecture Writing and BFA Writing programs at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, Claire is both the author and the titular second body of the text, in which she appears as a character and female subject alienated by doom, greenhouse gases, Gchat, and sex. As Donato writes in “Corpse Pose,” “There are ways in which to see inside a person’s body using text.” The Second Body is the fractured self that emerges into a 21st century landscape of terrorism and hyperreality, exported via corporate networks to the cloud.

Praise for The Second Body

What is The Second Body? Alice in the pit of despair, humming pop songs and practicing inversions. The ocean, sex, void, women. Dead chickens. “Doves at the edge of the lake / Falling across the age of the computer.” A bomb going off on the patriarchy. Gloom and glee, bones and teeth: this is how Claire Donato is trying to describe the world to you.

Kate Durbin, author of E! Entertainment

When a speaker in Claire Donato’s poem “Grief Interlude” says, “I care in different meanings, none of / Which are paraphrasable,” we’re getting to the root of these poems, which will try everything to articulate the broken and reverent heart that made them. These poems are thick with music and formally rangy and sort of amazing for the things they actually did to me, among which: hurt; puzzle; astonish; delight. Which is to say—they moved me. They move me. Hard to paraphrase that too.

Ross Gay, author of Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude

Generous, violent, open, and dark, The Second Body continuously lays clear a self-other, and that self-other continuously extends into the universe. As a person, and a reader, I feel very thankful for that, to be in that kind of space, in that kind of literature.

Amina Cain, author of Creature

Claire Donato is a rare and beguiling voice. I am tempted to call her a sincere trickster—the love-child of Joseph Cornell and Carrie Brownstein, perhaps. There is great rigor beneath her verse, and her themes—the body in pain, supplementarity, simulacra, sexuality as textuality, the flexible borders of species-being—are striking in the precision of their arrangements, and the delicacy of their assembly, suspended between the suggestive and the vivid. "There are ways in which to see inside a person’s body using text," she writes, and her second body—an uncanny, rewarding companion—is well worth listening to.

Dominic Pettman, author of Love and Other Technologies: Retrofitting Eros for the Information Age

Claire Donato’s The Second Body answers and deepens the anxiety that I can’t stop feeling and that poetry like hers can’t stop making us feel. "I Will Not Die Here," "The Pleasure of Tearing Down the Forest," "Off to the Nervous Museum"—titles that unnerve you, set over writing that remains unnerving and yet is remarkably studied, political, socially engaged—particularly with the making and remaking of the female subject, necessarily and unashamedly sexualized, but in edgy, productively discordant registers.

John Cayley, P=R=O=G=R=A=M=M=A=T=O=L=O=G=Y

About Claire Donato

Claire Donato lives in Brooklyn, NY and is the author of Burial (Tarpaulin Sky Press, 2013). Recent writing has appeared or is forthcoming in BOMB, Encyclopedia L-Z, Fanzine, Ninth Letter, PEN America, and PLINTH. With Jeff T. Johnson, she has collaborated on Special America, a site-specific multimedia intervention. She holds an MFA in Literary Arts from Brown University, received a fiction fellowship from the Millay Colony for the Arts, and was a finalist for the National Poetry Series. She currently curates WordHack—a monthly series focused on digital language art—at Babycastles Gallery in Manhattan, and is a Visiting Assistant Professor in the Architecture Writing and BFA Writing Programs at Pratt Institute.

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