Cover image for Talking cures : new poems
Talking cures : new poems
Howard, Richard, 1929-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Turtle Point Press, [2002]

Physical Description:
115 pages ; 19 cm
Format :


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Material Type
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Item Holds
PS3558.O8826 T35 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



Making use of the old name for psychoanalysis in his title, American Book Award- and Pulitzer Prize-winner Richard Howard's poems are spoken out of a solitude and into a solitude, but passing through a company of some order, some chaos. Themed throughout with concerns of the psyche and psychoanalysis, a comic atmosphere yet pervades in this humble, yet triumphant work.

Author Notes

Richard Howard was born in Cleveland, Ohio on October 13, 1929. He received a B.A. from Columbia University in 1951 and studied at the Sorbonne as a Fellow of the French Government in 1952-1953. He briefly worked as a lexicographer, but soon turned his attention to poetry and poetic criticism. His works include Trappings: New Poems; Like Most Revelations: New Poems; Selected Poems; No Traveler; Findings; Alone with America; and Quantities. He won the Pulitzer Prize for poetry in 1969 for Untitled Subjects.

He is also a translator and published more than 150 translations from the French. He received the PEN Translation Prize in 1976 for his translation of E. M. Cioran's A Short History of Decay and the American Book Award for his 1983 translation of Charles Baudelaire's Les Fleurs du Mal. In 1982, he was named a Chevalier of L'Ordre National du Mérite by the government of France. He teaches in the Writing Division of the School of the Arts, Columbia University.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Poet, translator, critic, and Pulitzer Prize winner Howard is adept at dramatic monologues, a versatile form he employs in his newest collection as a talking cure, a mischievous approach to self-analysis. Howard's narrators, famous and imaginary, do experience an unburdening of sorts in these urbane and witty poems, although they avoid serious emotion. The imperturbable James Merrill and the outspoken Alice Neel make appearances, as do Henry James, Willa Cather, and Joseph Conrad, participants in a ghostly roundtable in which writers critique movies. Howard maintains a Wildesque humor throughout this clever yet bittersweet volume, especially in the sequence titled "Phallacies," in which he makes gleeful fun of the form, function, and vulnerability of the male organ. Then in "Five Communications," a hilarious yet poignant exchange between two Americans who purchased software meant to translate a dog's bark and the Japanese company that produced it, he considers the impossibility of ever being truly understood. So much is lost in transmission and translation, the poet muses, so much is misunderstood, and yet we persist in beating back silence. --Donna Seaman

Publisher's Weekly Review

This funny, flirtatious volume of verse from the eminent Manhattan-based poet, editor and translator includes his best work in a long while. Howard has always been known for dramatic monologues, landing a Pulitzer for Untitled Subjects (1970) and acclaim for the eloquent (and historically researched) personae of subsequent volumes (such as 1994's No Traveller). Remarkable impersonations in this, Howard's 11th book, include Willa Cather, who comments at length on the classic film Queen Christina; Walt Whitman in old age, an evasive invalid, introduced to the author of Dracula; and a troubled colleague of the German "doctor/ who made arousal,// especially `deviant arousal,'/ a subject for scientific research." Howard (who teaches at Columbia University) has long made arousal in general, and gay men's varied erotic lives in particular, one subject for his work: that subject takes center stage in a series of provocative, sometimes comic poems called "Phallacies." The epistolary-narrative series "Five Communications" takes on love of another kind, being perhaps the best contemporary poem about dog-owners and dogs (and one enlivened by a plot-twist ending). Howard's devotees will also appreciate new work based on visual art, from the Colossus of Rhodes to the contemporary painter Gerhard Richter: those who want more personal meditations from this master of masks and disguises may be pleased by "Fallacies of Wonder" (Howard's reaction to September 11) or by the careful volume-closing syllabics in "Elementary Principles at Seventy-Two." (Nov.) Forecast: Howard owes his continued fame partly to his poems, partly to his ongoing success as a poetry editor (Paris Review) and as a translator of French essays, novels (The Charterhouse of Parma) and poems (Fleurs du Mal). Expect some respectful national reviews and a possible collected or selected next time out. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Ever since the publication of Untitled Subjects, which won the Pulitzer Prize in poetry in 1970, and Alone with America, a monumental critical study, Howard has been a central figure on the poetry scene. Here he returns to his favored form of dramatic monologs, or "ecphrastic" poems, which feature speakers like Odysseus, Henry James, Conrad, Meredith, Kipling, and Cather. Mrs. Charles de Gaulle comically mispronounces "happiness" as "a penis," setting the stage for a series of nine satires titled "Phallacies," including a droll description of "Marilyn Monroe with a penis" and an account of Dr. Gisela Richter discovering a trunk full of broken-off marble penises in a German museum. The other major theme of the book is dogs, including a hilarious poem on a Japanese invention that "translates" barks into human speech and an elegiac poem about Freud's last days in London, when even his faithful dogs would not approach him. The result is vintage Howard: brilliant, irreverent, and highly readable. Recommended for all larger collections.-Daniel L. Guillory, Millikin Univ., Decatur, IL (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

A Fugitivep. 1
Displaced Personp. 3
Phallacies I Another Translatorp. 5
Phallacies II Close Encounters of Another Kindp. 7
Fallacies of Wonderp. 10
Phallacies III Measure for Measurep. 14
The Apotropaistp. 21
Phallacies IV Successp. 24
Phallacies V Hanging the Artistp. 26
Changes: Dragon-Flies to Flying Dragonsp. 30
Phallacies VI Colossalp. 36
Phallacies VII Another Modest Proposalp. 38
Portrait in Pastel of the Volunteer Friedrich-August Klaatsch, 1813p. 40
Phallacies VIII Joiningp. 45
Phallacies IX Keepingp. 48
The Masters on the Movies
Henry James on Now, Voyagerp. 51
Joseph Conrad on Lost Horizonp. 53
George Meredith on Woman of the Yearp. 55
Rudyard Kipling on King Kongp. 57
Willa Cather on Queen Christinap. 60
Further Echoes of the Late Lord Leightonp. 63
Five Communications
Strayed in Translationp. 67
Two Ways to Skin a Cataloguep. 74
In-House Memop. 78
Reassurancep. 80
The Apodosisp. 85
A Table of Green Fieldsp. 89
Infirmitiesp. 92
Knowing When To Stopp. 109
Elementary Principles at Seventy-Twop. 115