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Drawing Breath
Drawing Breath

Drawing Breath

Essays on Writing, the Body, and Loss



223 Pages, 5 x 8

Formats: Trade Paper, EPUB

Trade Paper, $18.95 (US $18.95) (CA $24.95)

Publication Date: February 2023

ISBN 9798985652710

Rights: WOR

Overcup Press (Feb 2023)


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In Drawing/Breath: Inhales and Exhales on Body and Word, PEN/Bellwether Prize-winning writer Gayle Brandeis' essays explore both the writing life and the embodied life, along with potent intersection between the two. From the title essay investigating the connection between writing and breath to the final essay, which delves into Brandeis' experience with long-haul Covid and its impact on her creative voice, this collection is infused with the urgency of mortality, thrumming with grief, authenticity, and a deep love for both language and the world of the senses.


"The prose is precise and rhythmic as Brandeis keenly portrays her emotions...captivating from the start, this evokes the universal from the intimately specific." —Publisher's Weekly

"Inspire means, literally, 'to breathe in.' Drawing Breath, Gayle Brandeis’s brilliant new collection of essays, draws inspiration from form—form of the body, form on the page. The result is a compelling, one-of-a-kind pastiche: survey results, a film transcription, the history of a perfume, an exploration into the choral voice, an interview with the self. Drawing Breath is both intimate and inventive, deeply personal and culturally relevant. This book, in a word, is breathtaking." —Maggie Smith, author of Goldenrod 

“In Drawing Breath, Gayle Brandeis writes that she wants her last words to be ‘I love you.’ In a very real way, this collection of essays is Brandeis’ love letter to the world. The writing is powerful yet tender, ferocious yet kind, and always grounded in the body. Brandeis writes with a fierce elegance about her mother’s mental illness and suicide, her father’s dementia, her own reckoning with body issues, female desire and shame, and a body suffering from long-haul COVID. Drawing Breath is a necessary salve to our tumultuous times. When I read the last word of this book, I wanted to turn immediately to the first page and begin again.” --Suzanne Roberts, author of Animal Bodies: On Death, Desire, and Other Difficulties

 “Every woman has been warned, at some point in her life, to never show certain parts of herself or to share the troubles of her life. We often silence what churns within us and suffer the shaming of our minds, our bodies. Gayle Brandeis writes brilliantly and beautifully about what is hidden. From writing on the cardboard inserts of her father’s dry-cleaning shirts at four to writing a memoir in her forties, we follow the ma of her (writing) life through states of mental and physical illness; we recognize the mysteries and the powers of the body; we celebrate the unexpected storms of desire in midlife; and we find joy. This biblio-essay collection is a joy! Brandeis lifts up a diverse group of women writers by setting their words alongside her own, creating a chorus of women giving voice to silenced stories. I devoured this book.” — Jill Talbot, author of The Way We Weren’t: A Memoir

"In Drawing Breath, Brandeis reminds us of the strength and fragility of the invisible--our own breath, our hauntings and our haunted, and our relationship with our own art. The brilliance of this collection lies in its vulnerability and willingness to trust the unseen and to guide the reader safely to and through it. This book will remind you of your secret self--the one that has been waiting to be brought back from the shadows into the light--the one that will always see you safely home. - Laraine Herring, author of A Constellation of Ghosts: A Speculative Memoir with Ravens

Drawing Breath is a welcome reminder that bodily experiences drive writing as much as ideas do; the collection is 'a map of body and word and the breath that animates and unites them.'” —Sara Rauch, New City Lit

"Drawing Breath is a welcome reminder that bodily experiences drive writing as much as ideas do; the collection is “a map of body and word and the breath that animates and unites them.”—New City Lit, Sara Rauch

"Brandeis is not the first to write lyrically or to braid her words; she is not the first to experiment or write the body. But she does so with great beauty, with grace, humility, and unflinching honesty. There’s a lot to learn from that." —Diane Gottlieb, Hippocampus Magazine

Author Biography

Gayle Brandeis is the author of Fruitflesh: Seeds of Inspiration for Women Who Write (HarperOne) and the novels The Book of Dead Birds (HarperCollins), which won the Bellwether Prize for Fiction of Social Engagement (judged by Toni Morrison, Maxine Hong Kingston, and contest founder Barbara Kingsolver), Self Storage (Ballantine), Delta Girls (Ballantine), and My Life with the Lincolns (Henry Holt), which received a Silver Nautilus Book Award and was chosen as a state wide read in Wisconsin. Her most recent books include the poetry collection, The Selfless Bliss of the Body.