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Susan Howe

Susan  Howe

University of California, San Diego Special Collections MSS 0201

For nearly 30 years [Susan] Howe has occupied a particular and invaluable place in American poetry. She is a rigorously skeptical and a profoundly visionary poet, a writer whose demystifying intelligence is matched by a passionate embrace of poetry's rejuvenating power.

Susan Howe, an internationally acclaimed poet, first came to UB in the Spring 1988 semester as the Butler Fellow and returned later in 1989 as a Professor in the Department of English. In 2003 Howe was honored by becoming the first and only woman at UB to receive the honor of being a SUNY Distinguished Professor.

She graduated from the Boston Museum School of Fine Arts in 1961 with a degree in painting. Later her focus turned to poetry and her first publication, Hinge Picture, appeared in 1974. Since then Howe has published eighteen more poetic works.

The poetry she writes has a complex emphasis on language. Howe invites her readers to go more deeply into the poetic text. She stated in a 1995 interview with Lynn Keller: "I wouldn't want the reader to be just a passive consumer. I would want my readers to play, to enter the mystery of language, and to follow words where they lead, to let language lead them." ¹

Over the years, Howe has won numerous awards and distinctions for her work including:

  • The Before Columbus Foundation American Book Award for Secret History of the Dividing Line (1980) and My Emily Dickenson (1986)
  • New York State Council of the Arts Residency March-May 1986
  • 1987 Pushcart Poetry Prize for "Heliopathy"
  • Elected into the Academy of American Poets' Board of Chancellors, 2000
  • John Simon Guggenheim Memorial fellow, 1996
  • New York State Council Writers in Residency grant for poetry workshop at Lake George, NY

Read an excerpt from Howe's poem "Articulation of Sounds Forms in Time" published in Singularities in 1990. Also - see a page from the poem, "Thorow" published in that same monograph.

¹ quoted in Led By Language: The Poetry and Poetics of Susan Howe by Rachel Tzvia Back (pg 6)

Affiliation(s): English
Record Group(s): 16
Biographical File Contains:
  • Photographs