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What the Living Do: Poems Paperback – 22 Sep 1999


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What the Living Do: Poems + The Kingdom of Ordinary Time: Poems + The Good Thief (The National Poetry Series)
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Product details

  • Paperback: 96 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; New Ed edition (22 Sept. 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393318869
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393318869
  • Product Dimensions: 1.4 x 0.1 x 2.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 527,725 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Review

...a deeply beautiful book, with the fierce galloping pace of a great novel. -- Boston Globe

These poems are difficult to forget; poems of obsession that transcend their own dark roots. -- Margaret Atwood

About the Author

Marie Howe is the author of The Good Thief, What the Living Do, and The Kingdom of Ordinary Time. She teaches at Sarah Lawrence College and lives in New York City.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Josephine Sayers on 14 Feb. 2012
Format: Paperback
The honesty in this collection is what makes it real. If you've lost a loved one, it addresses death beautifully and truthfully, and I think you'll find an affinity with Howe as you read it. I find it remarkable.

Howe understands the mention of everyday things, of "crusty dishes" and spilt coffee, allows us as readers to connect with the poetry. It brings out the `Oh, I do that!' feeling. We feel ourselves in the poetry, journeying with her to understanding. Howe does this faultlessly, and though we are clear that the collection is about her, her life and her brother, we recognise ourselves in it. To read Howe's collection you don't need to be arty, or psychological or have a PhD in Literature, you just need to be you.

In a clear voice, with everyday language that is easy to understand, Howe writes poignantly. In the title poem, she explains "that yearning". I think part the reason this collection speaks so deeply to me is it reminds me how important life is to cherish. In depression we forget, the dishes seem another personal attack on us, another thing to muster the energy to struggle through. Howe shows us they are a blessing, reminds us that little wants are actually big wants: they are our life. We are not perfect, the things we do are not perfect, but that's ok, that's what makes it beautiful. And, while we're appreciating those crusty dishes, why not appreciate the "deep headstrong blue" sky too.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 16 Dec. 1997
Format: Hardcover
I have been carrying around a copy of the title poem from this book ever since I saw it in the Atlantic years ago - and waiting and waiting for Howe's second book to come out. It's worth the wait - a chilling and stunning and beautiful collection of poems, written so straightforwardly, as if Howe were just talking to herself as she walked down the street, or to us over coffee. It takes very hard work to make poetry sound so open and easy, and the style is exactly right for the seriousness of her subject(s): death, child abuse, love. Marie Howe is able to hold the pain in her heart up to the light, and is generous enough to let us stand there for a while with her.
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Format: Hardcover
People have often told me that hearing the word "poetry" sets off high school nightmares of having to "interpret" or decode literature. Such reactions never cease to disappoint me, considering everyone first experiences language through poetry, the playfulness of words. The innate melodies and rhythms that those first tunes bring to life in our early years are revived in Marie Howe's second book of poetry "What the Living Do". Striving for relentless clarity of language and image, Howe has written a painful celebration of "what the living do" after the death of a loved one. These verses, however, are by no means juvenile, confronting head-on the life and death of her brother John as well as the death of poet Jane Kenyon. And amid the suffering Howe's poetry insists there is room for love, for making love. Whatever loss that the poet endures because of her brother's death is countered (complemented perhaps) by her ability to be intimate and inexorably human amid the living. The poems are powerfully memorable, pushing for an aesthetic that is personal yet connective, accessible yet multi-layered. Writing in a language that is uniquely hers and yet entirely ours for the taking, Marie Howe's "What the Living Do" instructs us on how she has found that both praise and misery can undoubtedly inhabit the same swirling space.
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Format: Hardcover
Each of these poems chronicles the luminescence and the darkness of every day life. This collection also embodies a spiritual core, one that speaks to the complexity of the end of this century. Grace and forgiveness are earned through the unrelenting honesty of these lines. It is the sacred in these poems which will make it the collection and Howe the poet of our time. The discipline of Howe's writing, of her thinking, require a delibrateness of craft. Long lines and short bring the conversation of the everyday to a precision often missed in contemporary American poetry. This collection will speak to so many people: writers, those who rarely read to those who would never read poetry, to the finest craftsmen, and anyone who seeks the sacred in life.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 22 Nov. 1997
Format: Hardcover
A moving, sad, but ultimately redemptive book of poems that take us from the surprisingly erotic contours of childhood to the day to day courage of facing the death of a loved one. I'm glad to own this book.
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