- Paperback: 96 pages
- Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; 3/18/99 edition (April 17, 1999)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0393318869
- ISBN-13: 978-0393318869
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.4 x 8.3 inches
- Shipping Weight: 4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars See all reviews (56 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #34,596 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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What the Living Do: Poems Paperback – April 17, 1999
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From Library Journal
This compassionate memorial to illness and the loss of Howe's brother, John, and other friends ably depicts the growth and development of personal bonds against which "post-modern brokenness" is measured. (Howe has also coedited an important collection of essays about AIDS, In the Company of My Solitude, LJ 7/95). This thoughtful analysis of elements of grief ("a living remedy") will perhaps help to ease trauma of death, as does Robert Frost's "Home Burial," but full comprehension of "cherishing" and pain after "the wake and the funeral" seems impossible. The best of these empathetic poems demonstrate a longing for wholeness and appreciation of the "terrified and radiant" mysteries of silence. Sharing "a secret, unrecoverable history" of father, brothers, sisters, and friends?"what the living do"?Howe creates the first draft of a contemporary woman's spiritual biography. For larger collections.?Frank Allen, North Hampton Community Coll., Tannersville, Pa.
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
“The love in this book is tangible and redemptive.”
- Minneapolis Star Tribune
“Her verse is almost unornamented though she manages some great gift of will and expression to convey the sharpest feeling in long, graceful lines that seem to breathe on the page.... Despite the fathomless pain inherent in these poems, Howe never succumbs to sentimentality or self-pity; her tone is passionate yet detached, her vocabulary and imagery evocative, appropriate, and devastating.”
- Memphis Commercial Appeal
“Howe is a truth-teller of the first order. Fearless in presenting unfiltered experiences, she interweaves her simple, economical language into long, subordinated sentences, loose, enjambed couplets that spill compellingly down the page with near-invisible artistry.”
- Providence Sunday Journal
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Top customer reviews
As in her collection The Kingdom of Ordinary Time, Howe rescues the sacred trapped in the husk of the profane. The collection reads almost like a novella, as repeating and subsequently familiar "characters" appear in dreams and doorways, talk in italics, die after painful illness, leave her and return.
Howe's poetry is at its strongest when she allows her imagery to do much of the meaningful heavy lifting. Luckily, she's at her best quite a lot here as in "Reunion," which "tells" about Howe's partner coming back to her after a separation. But Howe is too great to just tell, and so we get this: "The very best part was rowing out onto the small lake.../the long sigh of the line through the air,//and the far plunk of the hook and the sinker-/lily pads, yellow flowers//the dripping of the oars/and the knock and creak of them moving in the rusty locks." Howe knows that when there is so much to say, it's best to say little and show the beauty she's after through close attention to concrete detail.
If you're not sure, listen to her interviews with Terri Gross or Krista Tippet.
Most recent customer reviews
No better living poet. It's the best that words can offer.