Saturday, December 31, 2005

a brief note on the poetry of Fanny Howe

Through multiple collections of poetry and her most recent Gone (University of California Press, 2004) and Selected Poems (University of California Press, 2000), Fanny Howe’s poems seem to be all part of a long, ongoing line of stanzas from beginning to end, breaking down moment upon moment until they have accumulated into so much more than the sum of these individual parts. I like that at any point, any moment, I can open up any of her collections at random and simply read; simply listen. Does this make meaning/narrative meaningless, someone might ask. Meaning and narrative are made out of moments, and Howe knows all about moments.

LET IT SNOW

Let it snow unless it is in heaven

Let it know
what it is itself that waterstuff

as it covers the silver
winter dinner bell

Any ideas had in Canada on the long poem, the life-long poem, the poem as long as a life have long been writ of and spoke by the likes of bpNichol and Robert Kroetsch, among others (taken in part from Americans such as Jack Spicer, Robert Duncan, Charles Olson and William Carlos Williams), and the same consideration of the life-long poem can easily be said of the work of Fanny Howe. Lyrical and linked, her poems echo and re-echo off each other, and resonate in ways that don't require reading them (almost) in any particular order, dipping in to the poems in Gone where the fancy strikes. Built out of elliptical poems and prose sections, each fragment of her lifelong poem exists in its own moment, able to exist separately, but, as Jack Spicer once suggested, can no better live by themselves than we can.

Your heard is your tongue and the sweet jam that loves it
Your heart is your shoe, your place on the sod
Your heart is your baby cribbed in your ribs
Your heart is a tulip with a tulip-sign on it
Your heart is your brain
Your heart is a troubadour singing to wood
Your heart is a camel plodding along
Your heart is your ring that was reddish brown
Your heart is your sex and your mouth next to mine
Your heart is my heart that trails you in death
and guides me to the bird (a heart)
named Only-One-Song.

-- from “The Passion”

2 comments:

CassieLove said...

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