Fanny Howe

b. 1940
Fanny HoweBen E. Watkins

Fanny Howe is the author of more than 20 books of poetry and prose. Howe grew up in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and studied at Stanford University. “If someone is alone reading my poems, I hope it would be like reading someone’s notebook. A record. Of a place, beauty, difficulty. A familiar daily struggle,” Fanny Howe explained in a 2004 interview with the Kenyon Review. Indeed, more than a subject or theme, the process of recording experience is central to Howe’s poetry. Her work explores grammatical possibilities, and its rhythms are generated from associative images and sounds.

Howe's collections of poetry include Second Childhood (2014), Come and See (2011), On the Ground (2004), Gone (2003), Selected Poems (2000), Forged (1999), Q (1998), One Crossed Out (1997), O’Clock (1995), and The End (1992). Critic Jordan Davis lauds the manner in which revelatory thought is presented in Gone: “Howe enacts what the South American poet Jorge Guinheime called hasosismo, or the art of the fallen limb, in which startling insights emerge and are subsequently concealed.” Critic Kimberley Lamm, discussing the poem “Doubt,” writes, “Fanny Howe’s work is unique in contemporary poetry for its exploration of religious faith, ethics, politics, and suffering.” Second Childhood (2014) is selected as a finalist for the National Book Award.

Howe is the author of many novels, including Nod, The Deep North, Famous Questions, Saving History, and Indivisible. She has written short stories, books for young adults, and the collection of literary essays The Wedding Dress: Meditations on Word and Life (2003) and The Winter Sun: Notes on a Vocation (2009).

She has received awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Poetry Foundation, the California Council for the Arts, and the Village Voice, as well as fellowships from the Bunting Institute and the MacDowell Colony. Her Selected Poems won the 2001 Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize. In 2001 and 2005, Howe was shortlisted for the Griffin Poetry Prize. In 2008 she won an Award in Literature from the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters. She was awarded the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize in 2009.

Howe taught for almost 20 years in Boston, at MIT, Tufts University, and elsewhere, before taking a job at the University of California at San Diego, where she is professor emerita. In 2012 she was the inaugural visiting writer in the Creative Writing Program at the University of Massachusetts-Boston. Her papers are housed at Stanford University. She lives in Massachusetts.

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Audio & Podcasts

The Poetry Magazine Podcast
  • Listen Charms that Forestall Harm
    Poems from Kay Ryan, James Arthur, Fanny Howe, Sarah Lindsay and the Thai Elephant Orchestra; plus Carolyn Forché on the poetry of witness.
The Poetry Magazine Podcast The Poetry Magazine Podcast
  • Listen Her Victorian Roots are Showing
    The editors pick highlights from an interview with Seamus Heaney and Fanny Howe's notebooks; and listen and comment on poems by Joan Houlihan, Roddy Lumsden, and Fred D'Aguiar.
The Poetry Magazine Podcast
  • Listen You're Always Moving Toward Silence
    The editors discuss a new John Ashbery poem from the March issue. Plus, Seth Abramson, Katy Didden, and Fanny Howe on her memoir The Winter Sun.
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Poet Categorization

POET’S REGION U.S., New England

SCHOOL / PERIOD Language Poetry

LIFE SPAN 1940–

Fanny Howe

Biography

Fanny Howe is the author of more than 20 books of poetry and prose. Howe grew up in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and studied at Stanford University. “If someone is alone reading my poems, I hope it would be like reading someone’s notebook. A record. Of a place, beauty, difficulty. A familiar daily struggle,” Fanny Howe explained in a 2004 interview with the Kenyon Review. Indeed, more than a subject or theme, the process of . . .

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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