poem index

sign up to receive a new poem-a-day in your inbox

About this poet

Marie Howe was born in 1950 in Rochester, New York. She worked as a newspaper reporter and teacher before receiving her MFA from Columbia University in 1983.

She is the author of Magdalene (W. W. Norton, 2017), which was long-listed for the National Book Award; The Kingdom of Ordinary Time (W. W. Norton, 2009), which was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize; What the Living Do (W. W. Norton, 1998); and The Good Thief (Persea Books, 1988), which was selected by Margaret Atwood for the 1987 National Poetry Series.

What the Living Do is in many ways an elegy for her brother, John, who died of AIDS in 1989. In 1995, she coedited the anthology In the Company of My Solitude: American Writing from the AIDS Pandemic (Persea, 1995).

About poetry and everyday life, Howe notes:

This might be the most difficult task for us in postmodern life: not to look away from what is actually happening. To put down the iPod and the e-mail and the phone. To look long enough so that we can look through it—like a window.

The poet Stanley Kunitz called her poetry "luminous, intense, and eloquent, rooted in an abundant inner life." He selected her for a Lavan Younger Poets Award from the Academy of American Poets in 1988.

Howe is the recipient of the 2015 Academy of American Poets Fellowship. About Howe, Academy of American Poets Chancellor Arthur Sze said: “Marie Howe’s poems are remarkable for their focused, intense, and haunting lyricism. Her poems characteristically unfold through a series of luminous particulars that gather emotional power as they delve into the complexities of the human heart. Her poems are acclaimed for writing through loss with verve, but they also find the miraculous in the ordinary and transform quotidian incidents into enduring revelation.”

Her other awards include grants from the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation, the Bunting Institute, and the National Endowment for the Arts. She has taught at Tufts University and Dartmouth College, among others. In 2018, she was elected a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets. Currently she teaches at New York University and Sarah Lawrence College. She lives in New York City with her daughter.


Bibliography

Magdalene (W. W. Norton, 2017)
The Kingdom of Ordinary Time (W. W. Norton, 2009)
What the Living Do (W. W. Norton, 1998)
The Good Thief (Persea Books, 1988)

Hurry

We stop at the dry cleaners and the grocery store   
and the gas station and the green market and   
Hurry up honey, I say, hurry,   
as she runs along two or three steps behind me   
her blue jacket unzipped and her socks rolled down.   

Where do I want her to hurry to? To her grave?   
To mine? Where one day she might stand all grown?   

Today, when all the errands are finally done, I say to her,   
Honey I'm sorry I keep saying Hurry—   
you walk ahead of me. You be the mother.   

And, Hurry up, she says, over her shoulder, looking    
back at me, laughing. Hurry up now darling, she says,   
hurry, hurry, taking the house keys from my hands.

From Kingdom of Ordinary Time (W. W. Norton, 2008). Copyright © 2008 by Marie Howe. Used with the permission of the author.

From Kingdom of Ordinary Time (W. W. Norton, 2008). Copyright © 2008 by Marie Howe. Used with the permission of the author.

Marie Howe

Marie Howe

Marie Howe was born in 1950 in Rochester, New York. She worked as a newspaper reporter and teacher before receiving her MFA from Columbia University in 1983. She currently serves as a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets.

by this poet

poem

Teacher, they said to Jesus, The law of Moses says to stone her. What do you say? —John 8:5

 

You know how it is when your speeding car spins on the ice at night

and you think here it is?

When the deer spring across

poem
Johnny, the kitchen sink has been clogged for days, some utensil probably fell down there.
And the Drano won't work but smells dangerous, and the crusty dishes have piled up
 
waiting for the plumber I still haven't called. This is the everyday we spoke of.
It's winter again: the sky's a deep, headstrong blue,
poem
It was like the moment when a bird decides not to eat from your hand,
and flies, just before it flies, the moment the rivers seem to still
and stop because a storm is coming, but there is no storm, as when