The Lyrics

Overview

Who was that stranger beside me?

Please forgive me for insisting

It must have been a dream.

No one could survive such happiness.

—from "[Untitled]"

The Lyrics records the days of one seeking knowledge through movement and contingent images—a monastery, a motel, an Irish coastal river—all the while conscious of political and class warfare, of...

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Overview

Who was that stranger beside me?

Please forgive me for insisting

It must have been a dream.

No one could survive such happiness.

—from "[Untitled]"

The Lyrics records the days of one seeking knowledge through movement and contingent images—a monastery, a motel, an Irish coastal river—all the while conscious of political and class warfare, of being American, of the need to know the difference (if there is one) between good and evil. Each poem is a lament formed in a place of rest, asking: Can we get beyond this and still be? The Lyrics is the newest work of an intense and vital poet.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
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

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)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Library Journal

The speaker in Howe's latest poetry collection is on a pilgrim's journey. In each of the long, sequential poems in this volume, she guides us over the barren, rocky coastline (in this case, Northern Ireland) under the "parchment sky" toward the possibility of hope or spiritual communion. Footsore on Howe's "unhosted highway," we experience firsthand the ravages of war. The setting is specific, but the voice is that of a history spanning generations and geographical boundaries. In over a dozen poetry collections (e.g., On the Ground), Howe, also a novelist and essayist, has written memorably from this perspective of mindful engagement. The poems in the current collection are not so much lyric in the sense of the lyric epiphany but rather in the musical sense. With their memorable rhythms, they form an anthem that keeps us focused as we walk that difficult road. This important book will be of interest to readers who have admired recent work by such poets as Adrienne Rich and Carolyn Forché. Recommended for large public and academic libraries.
—Sue Russell

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781555974725
  • Publisher: Graywolf Press
  • Publication date: 6/26/2007
  • Pages: 80
  • Product dimensions: 6.26 (w) x 8.70 (h) x 0.28 (d)

Meet the Author

FANNY HOWE is the author of more than twenty books of poetry and prose, including On the Ground, finalist for the 2005 Griffin International Poetry Prize, and Selected Poems, winner of the Lenore Marshall Prize. Howe lives in New England

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Table of Contents


Forty Days     1
School     27
City Limits     35
Far and Away     43
Scrape and Bell     63
Sheet Music     69
Night     71
The Road to Ennis     73
At Baron's Court     75
The Question     77
The Abbey     81
No Sleep     83
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