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Since Susan Howe came to read last week, I’ve been thinking that I really must immediately read everything she’s ever written starting now go. Before hearing her read I’d read her major works: The Europe of Trusts (which I’m planning on re-reading because it was almost a decade ago I read it); My Emily Dickinson. Recently, you’ll remember perhaps, I read That This. So I went to my local friendly university library and got every book they had of hers. Which it turns out was only Singularities. So ...more
I first came across Susan Howe’s Singularities at a used book store in Boulder, Colorado a couple of years ago. Reading this collection of poems for the second time has me reflecting on the experience of reading, and how I have come to these poems, on a second reading, with a new sense of her project as a poet. The noun, project, seems appropriate as the poems in Singularities carry with their assonance and cacophony of phrasing, an effect that is cumulative, where parts partake of the whole, an ...more
Sep 16, 2007 Jen rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Everyone, poets & poetry lovers, historians
This is where it began for me, my passionate obsession with a poet who some have in fact described as cold and cerebral. The excerpt of one of the poems from Singularities printed in an anthology and the question of "how/why/whatfor" with the page's movement captured the attention of a group of students I had at the time, and lead me to begin asking myself more about that question. I felt so compelled to explore it, that I wrote my DEA in France on her work and that of Claude Royet-Journoud, Mau ...more
So very difficult to understand, but after talking it over in class, I began to like and comprehend this poem a little more. The references to early American history had me thinking back to a class on this time period, and I was particularly fascinated with the references to the naming of rivers by both Native Americans and European colonizers [the power of language and naming]. I would love to take on the challenge of reading more Howe, like her book 'My Emily Dickinson.'
I guess what I'm most interested in is the transitions made between the prose/context pieces at the beginning of the first two sections, and the very dense poems that follow. For Howe, the transition is perfect. Just enough background information that I feel attached, and guided through all these splintered fragments. In fact, what becomes even more interesting is the juxtaposition between the Captivity Narrative, and the origin of place names in New England.
Rachel Blau DuPlessis once remarked that the only way to write poetry now is to be destroying language in language, to go to the limits of the medium, even to the point of ungrammaticality or inventing words. I really loved the chapter "Thorow" because this is what Howe seems to be doing - creating visual collages with words where the words are at war with each other.
Susan Howe was born in 1937 in Boston, Massachusetts. She is the author of several books of poems and two volumes of criticism. Her most recent poetry collections are The Midnight (2003), Kidnapped (2002), The Europe of Trusts (2002), Pierce-Arrow (1999), Frame Structures: Early Poems 1974-1979 (1996), The Nonconformist's Memorial (1993), The Europe of Trusts: Selected Poems (1990), and Singularit ...moreMore about Susan Howe...