Poets Marie Howe and Marie Ponsot to
Read at Smith College
-- Smith College will present a poetry reading by Marie
Howe and Marie Ponsot at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, March 23,
in Wright Hall Auditorium. The event is free and open to
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 poetry published in 1997. 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 fellowships. Currently,
Howe teaches creative writing at Sarah Lawrence College and
at New York University.
Ponsot's verse is both naked and refined and frequently
darts off in unexpected directions. The San Francisco Chronicle
described her as "one of the most elegant, intelligent
Ponsot's first book was published in the legendary City
Lights series the same year as Ginsberg's "Howl." As
a result, the book didn't receive the attention it deserved,
and she was initially seen as a Beat poet, when in truth
she's more a metaphysical poet, and writes in difficult forms
like the villanelle, the sestina and the tritina. She is
known for verbal precision and syntactic complexity. And
while she admits it may sound "unfashionable," her
poems "are meant to be beautiful."
Ponsot has always been fiercely independent. Decades passed
between the publications of Ponsot's first and second books;
in the interim she was busy translating 37 books from French
and single-handedly raising seven children. Since then, she
has published three more collections, including "The
Bird Catcher," winner of the National Book Critics Circle
Award, and new and selected poems, "Springing," and
gained wide acclaim. Other honors include the Delmore Schwartz
Memorial Prize and the Shaugnessy Medal of the Modern Language
Poet and critic William Logan observed that Ponsot "finds
more drama in spending a day at the beach, or telling a story
to some sleepy youngsters, than most poets could in the fall
of Troy." Earthy and erudite, sprightly and wise, at
82 this native New Yorker is finally receiving her due.
Howe and Ponsot's reading will be followed by a bookselling
and signing. For more information, contact Cindy Furtek in
the Poetry Center office at (413) 585-4891 or Ellen Doré Watson,
Poetry Center director, at (413) 585-3368.
Office of College
Northampton, Massachusetts 01063
T (413) 585-2190
F (413) 585-2174
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