From Publishers Weekly
In her latest collection, the prolific Howe continues her career-long pursuit of moral clarity and spiritual insight: What is a poet but a person/ Who lives on the ground/ Who laughs and listens// Without pretension of knowing/ Anything, driven by the lyric's/ Quest for rest that never/ (God willing) will be found? Diaristic and plainspoken, these seven sequences are welcoming and immediately likable, especially The Days, which finds Howe at her most apothegmatic (A seed can be stamped on/ And still want to live) and declamatory (This is such an old story, listen./ The poor are hard-working/ And the rich get more through talking). Firm-voiced passages like these provide refreshing disruption from occasional flatness, a hazard due in large part to Howe's frequent preference here for relatively brief, simple sentences, most of which avoid syntactic complication and many of which are broken into short, lilting, end-stopped lines. But if this simplicity of structure grows fatiguing, it also gives the poems a humble, balladlike character well-suited to Howe's down-to-earth metaphysics: So pray to the toilet, flush./ Pray to the floor, stay clean./...To the cow and the hen, thank you/ For all you have given/ To us workers of the world. (July)
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Praise for On the Ground:
"This is a book that teaches us to be ecstatic about poetry; in it we hear the frayed and difficult passages of our thought and place as humans, our restive worry and our longing for peaceful cohabitation with all others. On the Ground is an essential book for our times." --Judges' Citation, Griffin International Poetry Prize Finalist