Cover image for Selected poems
Selected poems
Howe, Fanny.
Personal Author:
Uniform Title:
Poems. Selections
Publication Information:
Berkeley : University of California Press, [2000]

Physical Description:
213 pages ; 21 cm.
General Note:
Includes index.

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PS3558.O89 A6 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



One of the best and most respected experimental poets in the United States, Fanny Howe has published more than twenty books, mostly with small presses, and this publication of her selected poems is a major event.

Howe's theme is the exile of the spirit in this world and the painfully exciting, tiny margin in which movement out of exile is imaginable and perhaps possible. Her best poems are simultaneously investigations of that possibility and protests against the difficulty of salvation.

Boston is the setting of some of the early poems, and Ireland, the birthplace of Howe's mother, is the home of O'Clock , a spiritually piquant series of short poems included in Selected Poems .

The metaphysics and the physics of this world play off each other in these poems, and there is a toughness to Howe's unique, fertile nervousness of spirit. Her spare style makes a nest for the soul:

Zero built a nest

in my navel. Incurable

Longing. Blood too--

From violent actions

It's a nest belonging to one

But zero uses it

And its pleasure is its own

--from The Quietist

Author Notes

Fanny Howe is Professor of Writing and Literature at the University of California, San Diego. She is the author of more than twenty books of fiction and poetry (most recently, One Crossed Out , 1997).

Reviews 1

Publisher's Weekly Review

The author of more than 20 books of poetry and fiction, Howe is here revealed to be working out a project of enormous consistence, clarity and grace. In 16 serial poems culled from small-press releases over the last 20-plus years, Howe (One Crossed-Out, etc.) has staked out an idiom that permits an impressive range of experience to enter the simple church-like structures of the poems, allowing them to move back and forth between a transparent self and ideas of transcendence: "Every glance works its way to infinity./ But blue eyes don't make blue sky./ Outside a grey washed world, snow all diffused into steam/ and glaucoma. My vagabondage/ is unlonelined by poems." A religious metaphor is not inapt, as several of the poems directly concern or address a God, but do so with a mix of archaism and skepticism that purposefully makes the distance too big to bridge fully, as in "The Quietist": "Mad God, mad thought/ Take me for a walk/ Stalk me. Made God,/ Wake me with your words./ Believe in what I said." A feminist thinking-through drives poems like "Conclusively" ("I was eliminated as a locus of mothering") and "The Vineyard," which contemplates indentured servitude, "a workplace torn by a union" and how "Love's body and mouth lie down together/ It's hidden parts soft inside." "The Sea-Garden" looks autobiographically back to childhood, where "hottentot figs/ Burst green water." Sensuous and intellectual pleasures commingle beautifully here, showing most recent conventional lyric to be sorely lacking in imagination. This collection should bring Howe the readership she deserves. (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved