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The Collected Poems


Barbara Howes


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Finalist, 1995 National Book Award

This collection fills in a missing chapter in the history of American women’s poetry by bringing a significant voice back into print. Barbara Howes has perfected a personal style that had little to do with the fashionable currents of her time. Dana Gioia has said of her “[O]ne sees Howes very clearly as a woman writing in one of the oddest but most important traditions of American poetry. She stands with Marianne Moore, Elizabeth Bishop, and ultimately Emily Dickinson in a lineage of women writers passionately committed to the independence and singularity of the poetic imagination. Collected poems 1945-1990 contains the lifework of one of America’s irreplaceable poets.”

Forty years ago in The New Yorker Louise Bogan wrote: “Barbara Howes is the most accomplished women poet of the younger writing generation—one who has found her own voice, chosen her own material, and worked out her own form. Miss Howes is daring with language, but she is also accurate. Her originality stands in constant close reference to the material in hand, and although much of that material is fantastic or exotic, it is never so simply for its own sake.”

Drawing from seven previous books, this collection confirms and consolidates the reputation of Barbara Howes as a timeless poet whose fine voice and surprising insights will continue to delight all lovers of language.

Praise For The Collected Poems: 1945-1990

“This welcome Collected lets us hear the many tones of Barbara Howes’ distinctive voice. Some of her poems have the tartness of up-country New England, the spareness of ‘Death of a Vermont Farm Woman,’ yet she can speak fantastically, in ‘City Afternoon,’ to evoke the fantastic clamors of New York; and in many a southerly poem—’Dream of a Good Day,’ ‘Sea School,’ ‘On a Bougainvillaea Vine at the Summer Palace’—she speaks, for our pleasure, the tongue of pure felicity.”
—Richard Wilbur

“It’s very gratifying to have the complete works of Barbara Howes in print, and it should always be remembered that this is poetry to be heard; the reader should say these beautiful words aloud.”
—Carolyn Kizer

“What a fine thing it is to have the best of Barbara Howes’ dazzling poems and translations in one volume! For decades discriminating readers have valued her impeccable prosody and quirky originality, and now a new generation of readers can discover for themselves the richly personal achievement of one of Ameica’s important lyric poets. Collected Poems 1945-1990 is cause for celebration.”
—Robert Phillips

University of Arkansas Press, 9781557283368

Publication Date: March 1, 1995

About the Author

In addition to her poetry, Barbara Howes has written a collection of stories and has edited several prize-winning anthologies of short fiction. She has won a number of major poetry prizes and was twice a finalist for the National Book Award.