From The Bones Out


Marisa de los Santos often situates her poems in the rich, vividly evoked landscapes of Virginia and Texas as well as her father's homeland, the Philippines, but their true territory is the body itself, particularly the female body. Throughout her work there is a sharp longing for a life of the senses, of "pure corpus." In the words of the poem "Women Watching Basketball," there is the Whitmanian desire "to declare Divine is the flesh! and for ...
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Marisa de los Santos often situates her poems in the rich, vividly evoked landscapes of Virginia and Texas as well as her father's homeland, the Philippines, but their true territory is the body itself, particularly the female body. Throughout her work there is a sharp longing for a life of the senses, of "pure corpus." In the words of the poem "Women Watching Basketball," there is the Whitmanian desire "to declare Divine is the flesh! and for once to believe it, believe it."

De los Santos is acutely conscious of all that interferes with the realization of this desire: the brutalities of illness, the transfigurations of age, our readiness to respond to the body as seen object rather than active sentient subject. Even the very passion for language that brings these poems to life is a risk, and in the poem "Io's Gift," the mythical nymph Io laments, "A woman made of words is milkweed, bound to rattle open, scatter, and be lost."

In From the Bones Out, loss, doubt, and conflict engender poems of lucidity and compassion-amounting to empathic verbal gestures-that build connections between women, as well as between women and men, and that seek to illuminate the simple elusive fact that the world is full of lives, each real, each different from the other. The compassion the poems express in sometimes strictly formal, always shapely, lines and stanzas is what gives this collection its grace and moral urgency.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781570033230
  • Publisher: University of South Carolina Press
  • Publication date: 4/1/1999
  • Series: James Dickey Contemporary Poetry Series
  • Pages: 96
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.23 (d)

Meet the Author

Marisa de los Santos
Marisa de los Santos grew up in northern Virginia, received a B.A. from the University of Virginia, an M.F.A. from Sarah Lawrence College, and a Ph.D. in English literature and creative writing from the University of Houston. Her poems have appeared in such publications as Poetry, Chelsea, Western Humanities Review, and Prairie Schooner. She teaches at the University of Delaware and lives in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.


Marisa de los Santos grew up in Baltimore and Northern Virginia and attended the University of Virginia. After graduation, she received her M.F.A. from Sarah Lawrence College and a Ph.D. in English Literature and Creative Writing from the University of Houston. She achieved her earliest success as an award-winning poet, and her work has been published in several literary journals. In 2000, her debut collection, From the Bones Out, appeared as part of the James Dickey Contemporary Poetry Series.

De los Santos made her first foray into fiction in 2005 with the surprise bestseller Love Walked In. Optioned almost immediately for the movies, this elegant "literary romance" introduced Cornelia Brown, a diminutive, 30-something Philadelphian with a passion for classic film and an unshakable belief in the triumph of true love. In the much anticipated 2008 sequel, Belong to Me, de los Santos revisited Cornelia, now a married woman, newly relocated to the suburbs, and struggling to forge friendships with the women in her new hometown. Belong to Me was selected for the Barnes & Noble Recommends program.

Good To Know

De los Santos' love affair with books began at a young age. She claims to have risked life and limb as a child by insisting on combining reading with such incompatible activities as skating, turning cartwheels, and descending stairs.

Here are some interesting outtakes from our interview:
"I'm addicted to ballet, completely head-over-heels for it. I did it as a little kid, but took about a thirty year hiatus before starting adult classes. I do it as many times a week as I can, but if I could, I'd do it every day! In my next life, I'm definitely going to be a ballerina."

"I'm terrible with plants, outdoor plants, indoor plants, annuals, perennials. I kill them off in record time. I adore fresh flowers and keep them all over my house all year round because they're beautiful and already dead, but you won't find a single potted plant in my house. So many nice people in the world and in books are growers and gardeners, but the sad truth is that I'll never be one of them."

"I'm an awful sleeper, and the thing that helps me fall asleep or fall back to sleep is reading books from my childhood. Elizabeth Enright's Melendy series and her two Gone Away Lake books, all of the Anne of Green Gables books, Little Women, The Secret Garden, the Narnia books, and a bunch of others. I have probably read some of these books twenty, maybe thirty times. I read them to pieces, literally, and then have to buy new ones."

"I am crazy-scared of sharks and almost never swim in the ocean. Yes, I know it's silly, I know my chances of getting bitten by a shark are about the same as my chances of becoming president of the United States, but I can't help it."

"My favorite way to spend an evening is eating a meal with good friends. The cheese plate, the red wine, the clink of forks, a passel of kids dancing to The Jonas Brothers and laughing their heads off in the next room, food that either I or someone else has cooked with care and love, and warm, lively conversation-give me all this and I'm happy as a clam."

"I adore black and white movies, particularly romantic comedies from the thirties and forties. I love them for the dialogue and for the whip smart, fascinating, fast-talking, funny women."

"I am the only adult person I know who dislikes olives."

"I'm crazy for fresh home-baked bread and butter. I'd take bread over chocolate any day."

"I play no musical instruments, but I sing up a storm in the car."

"In my next life, I will speak five languages. In this life, I speak one. It's sad really."

"My biggest guilty pleasure is InStyle Magazine. My second is chewy candy. Think gummy bears. Think Twizzlers."

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    1. Hometown:
      Wilmington, Delaware
    1. Date of Birth:
      August 12, 1966
    2. Place of Birth:
      Baltimore, Maryland
    1. Education:
      Un. of Virginia, BA in Eng; Sarah Lawrence College, MFA in Poetry; Un. of Houston, Ph.D. in Eng. and Creative Writing
    2. Website:

Read an Excerpt

Excerpt from the poem Ars Poetica For Intemperate Climates

June in Houston is slow suffocation and riotous
bloom. Indian paintbrush burns-thousands of tiny
refinery flames-on the I-10 embankments.

Inside my apartment, Ella is turning Stormy Weather
into something else, and there's more to this
than phrasing and pitch. "Raining" is born in her body

as breath, becomes ache in her throat, comes out
as a gold gift of sound that lifts, drops, lifts,
the motion of birds when birds are behaving like wind.
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Table of Contents

A Note on Marisa de los Santos
Ars Poetica for Intemperate Climates 3
For Susan 5
Wiglaf 7
For a Stillborn 9
Monologue of One Returned 10
Bible Stories 12
Luray Caverns: The Discovery 14
Family Plots 15
Land 17
Tea 21
Oregon 23
October: One Year Later 25
First Light 26
Because I Love You 28
Oil 29
Big Bend 31
Embodiment 32
Io's Gift 41
Women Watching Basketball 46
Supermodel 49
Perfect Dress 52
Inverse Epiphany in a Neiman Marcus Dressing Room 54
"I Knew a Woman": She Responds 56
For Tia Josefina 58
Milagros Mourns the Queen of Scat 60
Lucille 62
Heaven 63
Remission 64
Housework 66
After 67
Enough 68
The Fern 69
Woman Reading 71
Most of What I Have 73
Armadillo Epithalamium 74
Amagansett 76
Poem for a Birthday 78
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