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What the Living Do


Marie Howe (Author, Sarah Lawrence College)


"A deeply beautiful book, with the fierce galloping pace of a great novel."—Liz Rosenberg Boston Globe

Informed by the death of a beloved brother, here are the stories of childhood, its thicket of sex and sorrow and joy, boys and girls growing into men and women, stories of a brother who in his dying could teach how to be most alive. What the Living Do reflects "a new form of confessional poetry, one shared to some degree by other women poets such as Sharon Olds and Jane Kenyon. Unlike the earlier confessional poetry of Plath, Lowell, Sexton et al., Howe's writing is not so much a moan or a shriek as a song. It is a genuinely feminine form . . . a poetry of intimacy, witness, honesty, and relation" (Boston Globe).

Book Details

  • Paperback
  • April 1999
  • ISBN 978-0-393-31886-9
  • 5.5 × 8.3 in / 96 pages
  • Sales Territory: Worldwide

Other Formats

  1. Book CoverWhat the Living Do: Poems


Endorsements & Reviews

“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

“Marie Howe's poetry is luminous, intense, eloquent, rooted in abundant inner life.” — Stanley Kunitz

“Marie Howe has reinvented the elegy as a poem for the living, a poem of instruction, how we're educated by grief. Scrupulously attentive, rigorously self-questioning, What the Living Do is an achievement of remarkable power.” — Mark Doty

“The tentative transformation of agonizing, slow-motion loss into redemption is Howe's signal achievement in this wrenching second collection, which uncovers new potential for the personal poem.” — Publishers Weekly, starred review

Also by Marie Howe All

  1. Book CoverThe Kingdom of Ordinary Time: Poems


  2. Book CoverMagdalene: Poems


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