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The Kingdom of Ordinary Time: Poems Paperback – September 8, 2009

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The Kingdom of Ordinary Time: Poems + What the Living Do: Poems + The Good Thief: Poems (National Poetry Series)
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. SignatureReviewed by Brenda ShaughnessyMarie Howe's books of poetry materialize once a decade and are big news and cause for celebration. Both of her previous collections moved me to tears and have continued to move me. Reading her third is like finally having a very long thirst quenched. Howe's debut, The Good Thief, contains a poem, Part of Eve's Discussion, which remains one of the most breathtaking out-of-body experiences in contemporary poetry: ...when it occurs to you/ your car could spin/.../ it was like that, and after that, it was still like that, only/ all the time. When I teach poetry classes, this is what I start with: it makes young poets want to write. Then there are the rapt, anguished poems about all-too-corporeal experiences in What the Living Do, which struggles to reckon with a beloved brother's death from AIDS as well as a rough-and-tumble childhood. Howe finds the flash point of illumination in the chaos of grief and murky memory. This book has become a classic text in coping with life, love and loss. How do we save each other, or how do we watch helplessly? How can we live with our memories or with losing them, or each other? Howe is the rare poet who offers answers to these questions. This third book unites and develops all the strength and beauty of the previous two. Metaphysical aspects of Thief find advanced life forms in mind-benders like Limbo (Do I have an I?/ One says to another... ) and Easter. a brilliant short poem about reanimation (And the whole body was too small. Imagine/ the sky trying to fit into a tunnel carved into a hill). The earthbound qualities of Living also find new form here: political, indeed global concerns are posited with signature clarity, expressing, through simple observation and empathy, the hope for more humane systems. A cycle of heartbreaking poems about motherhood, called Life of Mary, looks back on the speaker's own dead mother, while other poems look straight into the moment, joyfully, reverently and always with a pause for reflection and amazement, with her daughter.Howe is a careful and soulful alchemist. She makes metaphor matter and material metaphysical. She becomes magic with her transforming perspective that is part mother, part muscle, part music, part mind. This book has the amazing thing that Howe always seems to pull off: the miracle. I saw it./ It was the thing and spirit both: the real/ world: evident, invisible. (Mar.)Brenda Shaughnessy is the author of Interior with Sudden Joy (FSG, 1999) and the forthcoming Human Dark with Sugar (Copper Canyon, 2008), which won the 2007 James Laughlin Award. She is poetry editor of Tin House magazine.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

The speaker in Howe’s pleasant, somewhat scattered new collection of poems is a woman of around 50 trolling the supermarket aisles, going to movies, parenting her daughter, doing a spot of reading here and there—living, in short, an ordinary life and wondering what it means. At times there’s a hint of dread it might not mean anything, or at least nothing beyond its surfaces. More often, there’s a quiet determination to detect, define, describe what’s significant in an existence that might seem largely mundane. Still, she doesn’t find much. Howe’s is not a poetry of transcendence, grounded instead in the muck of the stubbornly material. Even its occasional approaches to religious themes—including “Easter,” in which the poet imagines Jesus’ spirit reinhabiting his formerly dead body, and a sequence called “Poems from the Life of Mary”—are strikingly free of metaphysical trappings. What’s left is a gentle sifting, an eye avid for the glint of gold, and a resignation that it might never come. --Kevin Nance --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 80 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; 1 Reprint edition (September 8, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393337340
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393337341
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 0.3 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #148,758 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

29 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Poetry lover on March 3, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Howe's poems are suffused with a sense of light and longing that is tangible. Stunning in their depth and for the sharpness of their turns. At once as simple and complex as life and oh so rich. These are the kind of poems you will want to read again and again discovering more about the poems and yourself with each reading. Highly recommended.
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25 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Kevin Pal on March 26, 2008
Format: Hardcover
I have had the pleasure of attending a poetry workshop taught by Ms. Howe, during which I came to know her work. Over the course of three summer days, she stuck to her line of "Poetry is telling something to someone" during her coaching, and that same belief shows up in her work. In Marie Howe's poetry, you can see countless moments when the spiritual, the beyond, touches the everyday. And isn't that the task of poetry? To bridge the gap? The death of a mother, being shocked into a realization by a child's continual questioning - these are things we all experience, and Ms. Howe captures the moments in both subtle and intense ways with her words. An excellent collection of poetry and follow-up to her award-winning What the Living Do. I just wish the gap between publications hadn't been ten years!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By M.K. on November 14, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I had never heard of Marie Howe until she was interviewed on NPR's show "Fresh Air". Her work floored me. When I got this book, I was not disappointed. She is a woman who has seen sorrow and tries to deal with life as best she can. Meditations on time passing, fears, and memories are all spoken about in an almost meditative state. (One or two poems from the collection remind me of Raymond Carver's poems a bit.) No flash, no shock. She simply tells it like it is in a way that few souls have the disciple, courage, and talent to do.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By JRCD on January 7, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I'm not a huge poetry buff, but originally heard Marie Howe on Terry Gross' Fresh Air, and immediately was hooked. Her observations are remarkably true and beautifully said. I have shared many of her poems with my therapy clients to help them understand they aren't alone in whatever life struggle.
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20 of 29 people found the following review helpful By P. L. McNamara on August 14, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Marie Howe's "Kingdom of Ordinary Time" suggests that poetry of ordinary experience elevated only slightly by (often predictable) turns of irony may have run its course. These poems don't resonate as does the best of Howe's earlier work; only the occasional poem invites a second reading. I looked forward keenly, but found myself let down. There will be an audience for this collection since Howe handles language so skillfully, but there is little here to startle the reader into enthusiasm.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Daron Larson on July 9, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Reread this one after listening to the poet's conversation with Krista Tippett from On Being. I appreciate anyone who falls in love with the ordinary and reports back. These lines stand out:

"I want to tell you everything I
know about being alive but I
missed a lot of living that way--
My life was a story, dry as pages."

and

"if that wave broke it might
wash my life clear,
and I might begin again from no
and from here."

Enjoy!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Simon Barrett 'Il Penseroso' on March 7, 2012
Format: Paperback
I wonder if What We Would Give Up made it into David Lehman's gorgeous Great American Prose Poems? It's the best poem here. The following one, Government, is possibly the second best, while Non-violence crosses over into prose tout court. Sharon Olds influence in My Mother's Body? 'Her young astonished body pushed me down that long corridor..' It isn't all that good, but Howe's openness cannot but be engaging
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Lea on May 29, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I heard an interview with Marie Howe on Fresh Air public radio and she
recited 2 poems that cut to the heart. So raw and real to me. I thought, " I have to buy that book".
I think every woman should have this book part of her library.
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