Words form, interpretations: Love and I, Poems by Fanny Howe

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.



Filed under American Literature, Poetry

16 responses to “Words form, interpretations: Love and I, Poems by Fanny Howe

  1. I often have difficulty with poems, still, I do love them.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi, I’m involved with a UK-based small press, Grand Iota, which is about to publish Fanny Howe’s novel BRONTE WILDE. This will be the first novel of hers to be published in the UK. I’m a big fan and have published her poetry before. I can get a complimentary copy sent to you if you like. (You were kind enough to review my novel COUNTRY LIFE a couple of years ago, published by another UK press.) – Ken

    Liked by 1 person

  3. alilauren1970

    This is a lovely post, and I am going to purchase this book. I have become increasingly interested in poetry because it explores emotions in a way that fiction does not and uses language in fascinating ways, which I know is the reason so that many love to read it. But I am a newcomer! I know you have posted before about poetry. Do you have any other favorite poets (not classical but not modern)? I have enjoyed the work of Elizabeth Bishop, Zbigniew Herbert, Thomas Hardy, and Hopkins, but now I am looking for more! Any suggestions would be appreciated.


    • I also like Bishop’s poetry. I would also recommend Elizabeth Jennings, Donald Hall, Anna Akhmatova, Michael Hamburger, Jack Gilbert, Philip Larkin. A few just off the top of my head! Let me know what you end up reading and liking! And also if you have any recommendations for me.


      • alilauren1970

        Oh, perfect! Thanks so much! I also own Broken Hierarchies by Geoffrey Hill, and I am now slowly making my way through that. He’s a challenging poet to read, and some dislike his work (he does have many religious poems, which may not be to the taste of some)–and he’s very literary in his references. But I like the fact that it takes effort to understand him. I also own the complete poetry collection of Richard Wilbur, which I am going to start reading, as well. I am trying to make it a practice of mine to read some poetry every day. It sounds so maudlin, but it grounds me, and I was just sharing with some friends how much I am enjoying poetry these days, and they can’t relate (one of my best friends hates it). I used to dislike it, but now I’m so interested in the use of language that I want to learn more about poetry and how to read it. Oh–and I know you love War Music, and I just purchased that, as well.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Thanks so much! I’ve been wondering about Geoffrey Hill. I will have to buy this. And yes. War Music is excellent.


  4. That’s a lovely poem, Melissa. She’s a new name to me but I may have to explore further!


  5. I’ve not heard of Fanny Howe, but I shall be looking out for more now. That is a beautiful poem. I hope you’ll be reviewing the novel, I’m already interested.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Hi Melissa, Fanny Howe’s novel Bronte Wilde will be back from the press in the next few days. I am compiling a review list. If you still want to consider reviewing it, could you let us have a postal address? You can email grandiota@gmail.com – best wishes, Ken Edwards


  7. Pingback: Communication in the Midst of Solitude: My Year in Reading—2019 |

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