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About this poet

Susan Howe was born on June 10, 1937, in Boston, Massachusetts. She is the author of several books of poems and two volumes of criticism. Her most recent poetry collections are That This (New Directions, 2010), The Midnight (2003), Kidnapped (2002), The Europe of Trusts (2002), Pierce-Arrow (1999), Frame Structures: Early Poems 1974-1979 (1996), The Nonconformist's Memorial (1993), The Europe of Trusts: Selected Poems (1990), and Singularities (1990).

Her books of criticism are The Birth-Mark: Unsettling the Wilderness in American Literary History (1993), which was named an "International Book of the Year" by the Times Literary Supplement, and My Emily Dickinson (1985).

Her work also has appeared in Anthology of American Poetry, edited by Cary Nelson (Oxford University Press, 1999); The Norton Anthology of Contemporary American Poetry (2003); and Poems for the Millennium, Volume 2, edited by Pierre Joris and Jerome Rotherberg (1998).

She has received two American Book Awards from the Before Columbus Foundation and was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1999. In 1996 she was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship and in the winter of 1998 she was a distinguished fellow at the Stanford Institute of the Humanities. In 2011, Howe received Yale University's Bollingen Prize in American Poetry.

She was a longtime professor of English at the State University of New York at Buffalo and held the Samuel P. Capen Chair of Poetry and the Humanities. She was elected a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets in 2000. She lives in Guilford, Connecticut.


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That This

Susan Howe, 1937
Day is a type when visible
objects change then put


on form but the anti-type
That thing not shadowed


The way music is formed of
cloud and fire once actually


concrete now accidental as
half truth or as whole truth


Is light anything like this
stray pencil commonplace


copy as to one aberrant
onward-gliding mystery


A secular arietta variation
Grass angels perish in this


harmonic collision because
non-being cannot be 'this'


Not spirit not space finite
Not infinite to those fixed—


That this millstone as such
Quiet which side on which—


Is one mind put into another
in us unknown to ourselves
by going about among trees
and fields in moonlight or in
a garden to ease distance to
fetch home spiritual things


That a solitary person bears
witness to law in the ark to


an altar of snow and every
age or century for a day is

From That This, published by New Directions. Copyright © 2011 by Susan Howe. Used by permission of the publisher. All rights reserved.

From That This, published by New Directions. Copyright © 2011 by Susan Howe. Used by permission of the publisher. All rights reserved.

Susan Howe

Susan Howe

Susan Howe was born in 1937 in Boston, Massachusetts. She was elected a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets in 2000.

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poem
Iseult stands at Tintagel
on the mid stairs between 
light and dark symbolism 
Does she stand for phonic 
human overtone for outlaw 
love the dread pull lothly 
for weariness actual brute 
predestined fact for phobic 
falling no one talking too 
Tintagel ruin of philosophy 
here is known change here 
is come
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