Marie 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 poetry 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.



Poems by Marie Howe

How Many Times

Watching Television

The Last Time






Poetry Center Reading:

      Spring 2004 (with Marie Ponsot)