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About this poet

In 1940, Fanny Howe was born in Buffalo, New York. She is the author of more than twenty books of poetry and prose. Her recent collections of poetry include Second Childhood (Graywolf, 2014); Come and See (Graywolf, 2011); The Lyrics (Graywolf, 2007); On the Ground (2004); Gone (2003); Selected Poems (2000); Forged (1999); Q (1998); One Crossed Out (1997); O'Clock (1995); and The End (1992).

Howe is also the author of several novels and prose collections, including, The Winter Sun: Notes on a Vocation (Graywolf, 2009); The Lives of a Spirit / Glasstown: Where Something Got Broken (Nightboat Books, 2005) and Nod (Sun & Moon Press, 1998). She has written short stories, books for young adults, and the collection of literary essays The Wedding Dress: Meditations on Word and Life (University of California Press, 2003).

Poet Michael Palmer commented: "Fanny Howe employs a sometimes fierce, always passionate, spareness in her lifelong parsing of the exchange between matter and spirit. Her work displays as well a political urgency, that is to say, a profound concern for social justice and for the soundness and fate of the polis, the "city on a hill." Writes Emerson, 'The poet is the sayer, the namer, and represents beauty.' Here's the luminous and incontrovertible proof."

Howe was the recipient of the 2009 Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize. She also won the 2001 Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize for her Selected Poems, and has won awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Poetry Foundation, the California Council for the Arts, and the Village Voice. She has received fellowships from the Bunting Institute and the MacArthur Colony. She was shortlisted for the Griffin Poetry Prize in 2001 and 2005.

She has lectured in creative writing at Tufts University, Emerson College, Columbia University, Yale University, and Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She is currently a professor of writing and literature at the University of California, San Diego.

Third Word from the East

Fanny Howe, 1940

In my sleep Mohammed spoke
and I woke up
struggling with equipment
a helpless elder with fingers too weak
to bend the bits around the neck.

The Prophet expressed his relief
that his words
were of no interest
to postmodern theorists.
He was (he said) just another poet.

Like the Uzbek films of Ali Khamraev
his visions were spaced as if
by breaks
in God's mercy
or from it, he didn't tell me which.

*

One can see the shape but not the face

Now it's time
to recognize what was never intended

*

Dreams alone are their own reward.

Copyright © 2012 by Fanny Howe. Used with permission of the author.

Copyright © 2012 by Fanny Howe. Used with permission of the author.

Fanny Howe

Fanny Howe

The author of more than twenty books of poetry and prose, Fanny Howe received the 2001 Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize for her collection Selected Poems.

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From no nowhere not near the sea
on blue field flax
the cemetery's absolutely solitary
you and you and a third

of a pound of bread
for supper in the refectory
where I would die of hunger
if you--if soon--if on this unday--one

undoing would be undone