Fanny Howe’s latest collection of poems, Love and I, arrived in the mail this afternoon and I have spent some time reading and thinking about it. Her poems have a constant sense of motion which is particularly fitting for her thoughts on love. I’ve always felt that love—romantic, familial, platonic, etc.—is never something that can be static. We either move forward in love by putting effort into fostering it, tending to it, even expanding it. Conversely it also takes effort to forget it by sabotaging it, resisting it and ignoring it. My favorite poem in the collection has a brilliant title that captures Howe’s thoughts on love, memory and motion. Philophany is taken from two Ancient Greek words, philos, “love” and the verb phan, to “think,” “deem,” “suppose.”
The clatter of rain has a personal meaning.
This is the time to meditate or write down your dreams.
But the lover can do neither, can only wander
From room to room trying not to spill what’s so precious.
Around the lover are myriad sounds.
Thoughts shine through like water.
Forms, shapes, colors, stations are glorified in the morning.
Indecipherable, almost transparent.
Fear of loss takes root in the blood of the lover.
Words form, interpretations.
Miracles: no one there where someone was.
Someone here where no one was.
The stars that shine are sparks and coal.
As if to show experience purifies existence.
Experience was everything to me.
(This is what the uneducated would say.)
Every word must come from my acts direct.
But I know the difficulty too.
Who will believe what I do?
I’m very interested in reading more Fanny Howe. Her back list of poetry, essays and novels is overwhelming. Please let me know if you have any favorites of hers as a good place to start. I’m interested in reading all three genres.