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Cover for Second Childhood

Second Childhood


Fanny Howe


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The new poetry collection by Fanny Howe, whose "body of work seems larger, stranger, and more permanent with each new book she publishes" (Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize citation)

People want to be poets for reasons that have little to do with language.
It's the life of the poet that they want.
Even the glow of loneliness and humiliation.
To walk in the gutter with a bottle of wine.

Some people's lives are more poetic than a poem,
and Francis is certainly one of these.

I know, because he walked beside me for that short time
whether you believe it or not.
—from "Outremer"

Fanny Howe's poetry is known for its lyricism, fragmentation, experimentation, religious engagement, and commitment to social justice. In Second Childhood, the observing poet is an impersonal figure who accompanies Howe in her encounters with chance and mystery. She is not one age or the other, in one time or another. She writes, "The first question in the Catechism is: / What was humanity born for? / To be happy is the correct answer."

Praise For Second Childhood: Poems

“[Second Childhood] is surprisingly accessible, a contemplation of how old age resembles childhood. . . . The real triumph of [Howe's] art . . . offers glimpses of the unseeable, shards of the unsayable, between the slats of the words, between meanings. Whether we see what this reflexive poetry tries to show may have more to do with our own sense of faith--in language, if not in God--than with hers.” —Craig Teicher, New York Times Book Review

“Masterfully lyrical. . . . Howe navigates between indeterminate and shifting speakers and addressees with a wide array of tools, like obfuscating shadows, contradictions, and a precious, serene delicacy that channels a childlike marvel.” —Publishers Weekly

“The mystery of faith, the question of an afterlife, the joys and sorrows of motherhood and grandmotherhood--all are explored in this new volume by one of America's most dazzling poets.” —O, The Oprah Magazine

“Visionary. . . . The line breaks are as sharp as the facets of gems, with the rhymes the shine. . . . Extraordinary poems.” —Booklist

“Emotionally detailed, inventive, Fanny Howe continues to surprise us.” —Washington Independent Review of Books

Graywolf Press, 9781555976828, 80pp.

Publication Date: July 8, 2014

About the Author

Fanny Howe is the author of more than twenty books of poetry and prose, including Come and See, The Lyrics, and The Winter Sun: Notes on a Vocation. She received the 2009 Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize for lifetime achievement. She lives in Massachusetts.