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Books > Literature & Fiction > History & Criticism > Criticism & Theory > 0393045609
  1. What the Living Do: Poems
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  2. What the Living Do: Poems

    Delivery: 10-20 Working Days
    Customer Ratings (51 reviews)
    Price R790.00

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"What the Living Do. . . is a deeply beautiful book, with the fierce galloping pace of a great novel."―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).

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Marie Howe
W.W. Norton & Co
W. W. Norton & Company
W. W. Norton & Company
W. W. Norton & Company
W. W. Norton & Company
Most Helpful Customer Reviews

In the poem "What The Living Do," Howe writes: "I'm gripped by a cherishing/so deep/for my own blowing hair, chapped face,and unbuttoned coat that I'm/speechless:/I am living, I remember you." Though these lines appear on the penultimate page of the book, they might as well function as a sort of spiritual and artistic thesis statement for its entirety. There is something exquisite in almost every poem here.

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... Read more
I think one thing that makes these mostly elegiac poems so gutting and powerful is the directness of Howe's observations. She's an astute observer of internal and external realities and recounts what she sees with simple and direct language. If she ever resorts to using a metaphor it is only rarely and her best poems shun them altogether. The cumulative feeling is that of hard-won bravery, a willingness to look both life and death squarely in the eyes. This is, after all, what the living must do if they are to have any kind of life at all. While this collection can easily be read in an evening, I recommend reading them over the course of several days. Like most poetry, each poem should be read aloud several times.
While Howe's writing is fantastic and I cannot deny that, I did not expect my used copy to have writing in it. I am aware of that risk when buying used books, but the annotations from the original owner are truly distracting from Howe's brilliant work. Maybe check these sort of things before handing them off to be re-purchased next time.
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