Fanny Howe Makes Sense of Beginnings and Endings

By Dan Chiasson | 2019-10-04 | including 2 items |
Wherever I step I am stepping into a place that was just finished at the moment I arrived,” the American poet Fanny Howe wrote, a decade ago, in “The Winter Sun: Notes on a Vocation.” This temporal dilemma, which skews past and future, has preoccupied her sixty years of work: “If I freeze here, one foot poised to go forward, to land on the path, I will at least be living in the present and the past will know it.” Writing poetry has been her way of knowing, and of knowing that she knows. Her latest collection, “Love and I,” is further proof of this knowledge. Pragmatic but blessedly naïve—she calls herself “gullible”—Howe’s poetry takes a line-by-line approach to managing existential fear. Her work calls to mind a child’s tactics of self-soothing, like whistling in the dark. ... Since new in Howe’s work means late, “Love and I” is, in a double sense, Howe’s latest volume. It hurries to join a long and illustrious career, which, besides poetry, includes novels, stories, memoir, and short films.