Biography of Marie Howe
Marie Howe (born 1950 Rochester, New York) is an American poet. Her most recent poetry collection is The Kingdom of Ordinary Time (W.W. Norton, 2008). In August 2012 she was named the State Poet for New York.
Howe is the eldest girl of nine children. She attended Sacred Heart Convent School and earned her undergraduate degree from the University of Windsor.
She worked briefly as a newspaper reporter in Rochester and as a high school English teacher in Massachusetts. Howe did not devote serious attention to writing poetry until she turned 30. At the suggestion of an instructor in a writers' workshop, Howe applied to and was accepted at Columbia University where she studied with Stanley Kunitz and received her M.F.A. in 1983.
She has taught writing at Tufts University and Warren Wilson College. She is presently on the writing faculties at Columbia University, Sarah Lawrence College, and New York University.
Her first book, The Good Thief, was selected by Margaret Atwood as the winner of the 1987 Open Competition of the National Poetry Series. In 1998, she published her best-known book of poems, What the Living Do; the title poem in the collection is a haunting lament for her brother with the plain-spoken last line: "I am living, I remember you."
Howe's brother John died of an AIDS-related illness in 1989. "John’s living and dying changed my aesthetic entirely," she has said. In 1995, Howe co-edited, with Michael Klein, a collection of essays, letters, and stories entitled In the Company of My Solitude: American Writing from the AIDS Pandemic.
Her poems have appeared in literary journals and magazines including The New Yorker, The Atlantic, Poetry, Agni, Ploughshares, and Harvard Review. Her honors include National Endowment for the Arts and Guggenheim fellowships.
Marie Howe Poems
What the Living Do
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
The Copper Beech
Immense, entirely itself, it wore that yard like a dress, with limbs low enough for me to enter it and climb the crooked ladder to where
Every day I want to speak with you. And every day something more important calls for my attention - the drugstore, the beauty products, the luggage
What the Angels Left
At first, the scissors seemed perfectly harmless. They lay on the kitchen table in the blue light. Then I began to notice them all over the house, at night in the pantry, or filling up bowls in the cellar
Oh, the coming-out-of-nowhere moment when, nothing happens
You know it was funny because he seemed so well the night before I stayed over to meet a student before class —sitting at the picnic table...already so hot so early. I must have been looking for a pen or something
Magdalene—The Seven Devils
"Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven devils had been cast out" Luke 8:2. The first was that I was very busy.
How Many Times
No matter how many times I try I can't stop my father from walking into my sister's room and I can't see any better, leaning from here to look in his eyes. It's dark in the hall
After the Movie
My friend Michael and I are walking home arguing about the movie. He says that he believes a person can love someone and still be able to murder that person.
The failure of love might account for most of the suffering in the world. The girl was going over her global studies homework in the air where she drew the map with her finger
In the dream I had when he came back not sick but whole, and wearing his winter coat, he looked at me as though he couldn't speak, as if there were a law against it, a membrane he
The Last Time
The last time we had dinner together in a restraurant with white table clothes, he leaned forward and took my two hands in his and said, I'm going to die soon. I want you to know that.
Part of Eve's Discussion
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 a hundred starlings lift and bank together before they wheel and drop,
I want to write a love poem for the girls I kissed in seventh grade, a song for what we did on the floor in the basement of somebody's parents' house, a hymn for what we didn't say but thought:
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,