That This

That This

by Susan Howe
     
 

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Susan Howe’s newest book of poetry is a revelation as well as a mystery.
“What treasures of knowledge we cluster around.” That This is a collection in three pieces. “Disappearance Approach,” an essay about the sudden death of the author’s husband (“land of darkness or darkness itself you shadow mouth”), begins the

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Overview

Susan Howe’s newest book of poetry is a revelation as well as a mystery.
“What treasures of knowledge we cluster around.” That This is a collection in three pieces. “Disappearance Approach,” an essay about the sudden death of the author’s husband (“land of darkness or darkness itself you shadow mouth”), begins the book with paintings by Poussin, an autopsy, Sarah Edwards and her sister-in-law Hannah, phantoms, elusive remnants, and snakes. “Frolic Architecture,” the second section — inspired by visits to the vast 18th-century Jonathan Edwards archives at the Beinecke and accompanied by six black-and-white photograms by James Welling — presents hauntingly lovely, oblique text-collages that Howe (with scissors and “invisible” Scotch Tape and a Canon copier) has twisted, flattened, and snipped into “inscapes of force.” The final section, “That This,” delivers beautiful short squares of verse that might look at home in a hymnal, although their orderly appearance packs startling power:That this book is a history of
a shadow that is a shadow of
Me mystically one in another
another another to subserve
“The still-new century’s finest metaphysical poet.”—The Village Voice

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In this very beautiful four-part book, Howe (Souls of the Labadie Tract) seeks to come to terms with the sudden death of her third husband, the philosopher and scholar Peter H. Hare. The four sections take radically different formal "approaches" to his loss, in the sense of going backwards in time, to the days just before Hare's fatal embolism, and in the sense of finding a means of understanding, or at least of moving forward. The first section uses a simple, diaristic prose through which Howe incorporates the terse capitals of Hare's autopsy, along with a variety of 18th-century epistolary condolences. The result conveys Howe's sense of "being present at a point of absence where crossing centuries may prove to be like crossing languages." The next section, "Frolic Architecture," comprises densely layered photocopied text fragments whose three-dimensional quality seems to extend into a fourth—time. The title section follows with seven pages of strophic, hymnlike verse, where "Grass angels perish in this// harmonic collision because/ non-being cannot be ‘this.'" By the final, untitled collage, Howe has made her grief speak as much through textual interstices and shifts in diction and form as through each singular elegy. (Dec.)
John Herbert Cunningham - Raintaxi
“Meaning appears on the edge of consciousness, unable to break through. This is Howe's magic—to make you, the reader, reach for something you feel is there, and to keep you returning to the page in hopes that, at some point, the boundary will be breached.”
Raintaxi
Meaning appears on the edge of consciousness, unable to break through. This is Howe's magic—to make you, the reader, reach for something you feel is there, and to keep you returning to the page in hopes that, at some point, the boundary will be breached.”— John Herbert Cunningham
Library Journal
Death is one of the preeminent subjects of poetry, and Howe (A Europe of Trusts) approaches this topic with the gravitas of one who has endured loss. Her newest volume deals chiefly with the death of her husband, Peter Hare. The book juxtaposes Howe's personal recollections with excerpts from an assortment of documents, ranging from 18th-century diaries to an array of half-decayed ephemera, such as bits of Poussin prints and fragments of linguistic sculpture. Most interesting is the way in which Howe historicizes her husband as a strategy for compartmentalizing the often-painful memory of him. In short, Howe makes him part of her inner life by transforming him into text. Thus changed, Hare now becomes a different kind of presence—one whose status is illustrated by the book's title, as it reminds us of the disparity between that which is here (This) and that which is elsewhere (That). VERDICT An intelligent and unorthodox treatment of grief, this title will appeal to poetry and visual arts enthusiasts.—Chris Pusateri, Jefferson Cty. P.L., Lakewood, CO

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780811219181
Publisher:
New Directions Publishing Corporation
Publication date:
02/07/2011
Pages:
112
Sales rank:
1,144,934
Product dimensions:
5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.40(d)

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Meet the Author

Author of more than a dozen books of poetry and two of literary criticism, Susan Howe's recent collection of poems That This, published by New Directions won the Bollingen Prize in 2011. Her earlier critical study, My Emily Dickinson, was re-issued in 2007 with an introduction by Eliot Weinberger. Three CDs in collaboration with the musician/composer David Grubbs, Thiefth,Souls of the Labadie Tract, and Frolic Architecturewere released on the Blue Chopsticks label (2005; 2011). Howe held the Samuel P. Capen Chair in Poetry and the Humanities at the State University New York at Buffalo until her retirement in 2007. The recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, she was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1999 and served as a Chancellor to the Academy of American Poets between 2000-2006. In fall, 2009 she was awarded a Fellowship to the American Academy at Berlin. Grenfell Press published a fine press edition of “Frolic Architecture with photographic prints by James Welling in 2009. Recently she was an Artist In Residence at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston. In October, 2013 her word collages were exhibited at the Yale Union in Portland, Oregon, and in the Whitney Biennial Spring, 2014. A limited press edition of Tom Tit Tot (the word collages which amount to a series poem) with art work by R.H. Quaytman has just been published by MoMA in New York, and Spontaneous Particulars:The Telepathy of Archives, (2014) published by Christine Burgin and New Directions.

James Welling, b. 1951, is an acclaimed experimental artist who employs a wide variety of photographic tools and media.

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