January 30, 2003
Poets Marie Howe and Richard
McCann to Read at Smith College
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
NORTHAMPTON, Mass.-Smith College will
present a poetry reading by Marie Howe and Richard McCann at
7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 11, in Wright Hall Auditorium.
Longtime friends and celebrated poets, Howe and McCann both have
written frequently and movingly about the loss of loved ones
Howe sees her work as an act of confession, or of conversation.
She says simply, "Poetry is telling something to someone."
According to her mentor, the distinguished poet Stanley Kunitz,
Howe's 'telling' is "luminous, intense, eloquent."
Part of the urgency and importance of Howe's work stems from
its rootedness in real life. Just ten minutes into her 1987
residence at the MacDowell Colony, Howe received a call from
her brother John telling her that her mother had had a heart
attack. Two years later, John died of AIDS, and her book "What
the Living Do" is, in large part, an elegy to him. It was
chosen by Publisher's Weekly as one of the five best books of
Howe went on to co-edit "In the Company of My Solitude:
American Writing from the AIDS Pandemic." Howe's
poetry is intensely intimate, and her bravery in laying bare
the music of her own pain is part of its resonance. Kunitz selected
Howe for a Lavan Younger Poets Prize from the American Academy
of Poets, and poet and novelist Margaret Atwood named Howe's
first collection, "The Good Thief," for the National
Poetry Series. She has, in addition, been a fellow at the Bunting
Institute at Radcliffe College and a recipient of NEA and Guggenheim
Currently, Howe teaches creative writing at Sarah Lawrence College
and at New York University.
McCann has been instrumental in making poetry that speaks
to the AIDS crisis and gay relationships. His work has been included
in "In the Company of My Solitude: American Writing from
the AIDS Pandemic" and "The Penguin Book of Gay Short
His most recent collection of poems, "Ghost Letters,"
received the Beatrice Hawley prize and the Capricorn Poetry Award.
McCann's poems narrate a haunted world. The titles of his collections-"Ghost
Letters," "Dream of the Traveler" and "Nights
of 1990"-point to this poignant mixture of presence and
absence, of imagination and fierce, unblinking reality. Poet
Jean Valentine writes, "... McCann writes not about, but
from, his losses. We listen to his ghosts and they are
While the evocation of memory and death fills McCann's poems
with phantoms, both personal and cultural, it is undeniably focused
on the body. Fiercely passionate and deeply elegiac, his poems
are, as Mark Doty writes, "posted from the zone where mortality
and desire intersect."
McCann also has a deeply rooted sense of place. He was born
in Maryland and has spent the majority of his life in the mid-Atlantic
region, co-editing "Landscape and Distance: Contemporary
Poets from Virginia." Currently, he lives
in Washington D.C., where he co-directs the Creative Writing
Program at American University.
Howe and McCann's reading is sponsored by the Poetry
Center, funded by the Edith Oppenheimer Richman '31 Fund,
and will be followed by a bookselling and signing. For more information,
call Cindy Furtek in the Poetry Center office at (413) 585-4891
or Ellen Doré Watson, director, at (413) 585-3368.