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The Kingdom of Ordinary Time: Poems

4.06 of 5 stars 4.06  ·  rating details  ·  636 ratings  ·  88 reviews
Hurrying through errands, attending a dying mother, helping her own child down the playground slide, the speaker in these poems wonders: what is the difference between the self and the soul? The secular and the sacred? Where is the kingdom of heaven? And how does one live in Ordinary Time—during those periods that are not apparently miraculous?
Hardcover, 80 pages
Published March 17th 2008 by W. W. Norton & Company (first published March 10th 2008)
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This was the first collection of Howe's that I've read and she's immediately leapt onto my list of favorite poets. The ultimate compliment I can give these poems is that I wish I wrote them; Howe's style is both accessible and sophisticated and her subject matter is TRULY the Kingdom of Ordinary time. She is obsessed with finding the sacred in the profane, or moreover, eliminating the very CATEGORY of profane time and experience. Errands are holy, caring for her ailing mother is communion, and h ...more
I still liked some of the poems in this, but the book as a whole is not as good as her other two.

I thought the best ones were about her daughter. Some of the poems in this book were very focused and strong, but most of the poems were not as intense as her poetry usually is.

A lot of the poems would start somewhere and end somewhere else. Great poems take the reader on a trip, but a lot of these poems brought me somewhere and I didn't know how I got there, or how it was related to the beginning.
Jun 12, 2008 Heather rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Anyone with half a brain and half a heart.
Shelves: poetry, favorites
"My life was a story, dry as pages. Seems like he should have known/enough to like them even lightly with his thumb/ But he didn't. /And I have to admit I didn't much like the idea/of telling him how."
What an awesome heartwrenching collection of poems. Marie Howe is the single most amazing contemporary poet working today. I say that with the assertion that only the most uneducated can have. I say that because I don't know enough, I only know that it is true. Did I love this as much as "What the
Jamie Cattanach
Three and a half stars? But worth the price of purchase for "Hurry" which, if not subtle, made me cry for like a full five minutes.
I am not ordinarily a poetry person. But I fell in love with Marie Howe's work. Our book club read "The Kingdom of Ordinary Time". It was a discovery for me.

Her poetry is made of ordinary life events...big things like the death of your mother and a brother and little things like walking down the street and seeing your reflection in a store window. This is what brought it home to me was so like life. "Poetry", says Howe, "happens in the silences."
To me her work happens in the mi
Dan Gobble
I heard an interview which Krista Tippett (host of Speaking of Faith / On Being radio shows on NPR) did with Marie Howe and I became intrigued with her story and I got to hear some of her poems and her approach to the craft of being a poet. I immediately went to my local bookstore, the Literary Bookpost, and bought a copy of the only Marie Howe book of poems they had on their shelves, "The Kingdom of Ordinary Time".

I read these poems virtually non-stop, cover-to-cover, in one sitting and I've re
I really liked some of these poems, but some seemed kind of flat, which makes me ask, "Why is this poetry?" Some of it sounds like thoughts about what just in "I just went to the store and at the store" etc...not very poetic.
But I'm looking forward to talking about it in book club.
Aug 06, 2012 Mia rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: poetry
Another book that I came to through browsing actual books on actual shelves. I wouldn't have picked up Marie Howe but--hey!--I did. And she made me cry in the bathtub and that's usually a good thing and it was.
Stephanie Edwards
I loved What the Living Do and The Good Thief. I was so excited to begin this book, but it definitely fell short of my expectations.
Dorianne Laux
Breathtaking. As always. More when I'm done.
Apr 27, 2008 Rick rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: poetry
The cover of Howe’s third collection of poems is decorated with a watercolor by her daughter Grace Yi-Nan Howe and one Alex Ross. The painting has a fried egg of a sun shining over a landscape of green, purple, brown and red triangles and squares, with what look like letter T’s and I’s providing fences and trees, and maybe a couple of A’s. It’s a pleasing, vibrant, child’s view landscape threatened by a fury of scrabbled colors, reds, brown, grey filling the painting’s right side like a storm. M ...more
Her language is very ordinary and carries in it a very subtle surprise, especially when it does its delicate wondering about the character of Mary, giving her a halo of ordinariness. Interesting how nonspecific much of the language is -- but the unspecifics are well placed so that they're open but not vague, like that line in Bishop's "Fish," in the midst of such incredible specificity, when she describes the fishes eyes: "It was more like the tipping/ of an object toward the light." Like the la ...more
While many of these poems start with observation of the every day world, that is just the starting point for the journey they take into the life of the spirit. The turns of thought and language of some of these poems made me shiver.

"The people Jesus loved were shopping at the Star Market yesterday./An old lead-colored man standing next to me at the checkout/ breathed so heavily I had to step back a few steps." "The Star Market"

"This is the life you have written," the novel tells us. "What happ
I'm studying modern women poets and what better teacher than the work of Marie Howe. I admire how she is able to re-examine religious and spiritual concepts that I learned as a child and give them back to me refined, renewed, and refurbished. Some of the poems ("The Massacre," for instance) address brutal subject matter with such intimacy that my breath quickened and a surge of adrenaline pumped through my blood. I loved "What the Woman Said" and "Hurry," poems that are direct hits regarding per ...more
This is the second collection of poems by Howe that I've read. I enjoyed reading it, but I felt like the electricity present in her first collection I read (What the Living Do) was not as strong here. I still found some fine poems:

What We Would Give Up
Non-violence (which I initially thought ended at the bottom of the first page)
I really liked the poems in this book. They're really odd poems but very moving. The whole book went by very quickly.

May 2015: Hey, so I read this back in 2010! Other than a few poems towards the end, I didn't remember it, but I did note in my 2010 review that "the whole book went by very quickly" so maybe that's why. Anyway, I was looking for poetry that would really move me; I've been reading a lot of poetry lately but it's not necessarily getting to my heart, and I thought this might since th
This third collection of poems by Marie Howe reflects and builds a little on the voice she cultivated in first two books, but it rarely rises to their level of authenticity. Howe is still a master of long, limber lines that find the music in storytelling and she uses this strength to great advantage in the collection's best moments ("Would You Rather," "After the Movie," "What We Would Give Up" and "Hurry"), which lean even more into prose poem territory than anything she's written before. It's ...more
Marie Howe's work always challenges me to read carefully. I liked her first two books, am always surprised by the way she writes poems, decidedly poems, but with a simplicity that makes them so easy to read. She has a gift for ending a poem in a way that illuminate the rest of it.

In WHAT THE LiVING DO she writes about the death of her brother by aids. This one is more general. One of my favorites, a poem entitled "Easter," where Howe muses on coming back to life, Jesus is the example as the blo
Tara Burke
Marie Howe is teaching me to be personal, direct, full of yearning to know and ask, and also brief. This is hard for me, but she has it mastered. A beautiful book, particularly the big questions in the second half.
I would actually rate this as 3.5 stars. There are some very good poems in this book, and as a whole the book is quite readable and the poems do communicate. Without going into detail: I expected more.
Kevin Fanning
I found a lot to love here. Definitely want to read more by this author.


Prayer: "My days and nights pour through me like complaints / and become a story I forgot to tell."

Courage: "What happens is that when you get older you / get braver. / Then he pauses and looks at me, Are you brave?"

Non-violence: "Justice before love, I'd say years later. What I meant was justice was love."

What the Woman Said: "I was watching me, and I was someone else who / looked like she was having a good time."
My favorite Marie Howe collection so far (still have to get to What the Living Do). Poems that left me thinking, that returned in odd moments during the day to get me thinking again.
Dec 05, 2014 Lisa rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: poetry
I really enjoyed a lot of the poems that appeared in the first part of this book, but didn't enjoy as many in the last 2/3 of the book. I look forward to checking out her other works.
Elizabeth Shafer
I found this a very powerful book, unusual in that many of the poems have spiritual themes but written in a subtle, revelatory way.
Maybe it was because I just finished reading One Secret Thing by Sharon Olds (which was pretty much on the exact same topic), but I was left wanting more... and not in a good way. I'm a fan of Marie Howe's writing. The Good Thief is one of my favorite books... but I felt like each poem was just brushing at the surface of things and was hesitant. I never felt like the poems were really getting at anything important... which I feel bad saying considering the delicate topic. However, I am going to ...more
Kasey Jueds
Wow. I didn't think it was possible for me to feel as strongly about this book as I did about her previous one, What The Living Do, which is one of my poetry all-time faves. But I ended up just loving it, and appreciating (all over again) the mixture of the everyday (giving her kid a bath, buying bananas) and the spiritual (for lack of a better world) that dwells inside the quotidian and which is sometimes visible, sometimes not. The way the poems move between the two, and between a chatty sort ...more
I'm not a lover of poetry so this was a stretch for me. I liked the author's style because I found the poetry accessible. My favorite was called "Hurry" and I photocopied and posted it in my office because it spoke to me. I would definitely try another book by this author.
I came to this collection through reading one of its poems, "Prayer", online. It's a marvelous poem, an honest take on our conflicted feelings about praying. "Every day I want to speak with you. And every day something more important / calls for my attention -- the drugstore, the beauty products, the luggage / I need to buy for the trip." But most of the other poems left me puzzled about where they were coming from (or headed). Granted, I haven't read much contemporary poetry and I'm willing to ...more
My favorite poet. Like she wrote these poems from inside the reader's memory.
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Born in Rochester, New York, Marie Howe attended Sacred Heart Convent School and the University of Windsor. She received an MFA from Columbia University, where she studied with Stanley Kunitz, whom she refers to as “my true teacher.”

Howe has taught at Sarah Lawrence College, Columbia, and NYU. She co-edited (with Michael Klein) the essay anthology In the Company of My Solitude: American Writing fr
More about Marie Howe...
What the Living Do: Poems The Good Thief In the Company of My Solitude: American Writing from the AIDS Pandemic George Sand the Search for Love The Writer's Notebook: Craft Essays from Tin House

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“Marriage My husband likes to watch the cooking shows, the building shows, the Discovery Channel, and the surgery channel. Last night he told us about a man who came into the emergency room with a bayonet stuck entirely through his skull and brain. Did they get it out? We all asked. They did. And the man was ok because the blade went exactly between the two halves without severing them. And who had shoved this bayonet into the man’s head? His wife. A strong woman, someone said. And everyone else agreed.” 0 likes
“Government Standing next to my old friend I sense that his soldiers have retreated. And mine? They’re resting their guns on their shoulders talking quietly. I’m hungry, one says. Cheeseburger, says another, and they all decide to go and find some dinner. But the next day, negotiating the too narrow aisles of The Health and Harmony Food Store—when I say, Excuse me, to the woman and her cart of organic chicken and green grapes she pulls the cart not quite far back enough for me to pass, and a small mob in me begins picking up the fruit to throw. So many kingdoms, and in each kingdom, so many people: the disinherited son, the corrupt counselor, the courtesan, the fool. And so many gods—arguing among themselves, over toast, through the lunch salad and on into the long hours of the mild spring afternoon—I’m the god. No, I’m the god. No, I’m the god. I can hardly hear myself over their muttering. How can I discipline my army? They’re exhausted and want more money. How can I disarm when my enemy seems so intent?” 0 likes
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