Friday, September 21, 2012

Huff Post: Rita Hayworth of the Poetry World

Poetic Justice: Marie Howe Named New York Laureate

by Mark Matousek

Marie Howe is nobody's fool. She isn't a woman with grand illusions about things like awards, career, reputation, or the mawkish vicissitudes of the book world. Still, she's grateful to have been chosen this month to be New York's new poet laureate and determined -- passionately -- not to waste this opportunity to vitalize awareness of poetry in the age of Twitter and Hello Kitty.

Howe has long been a poet's poet, a cult favorite, the Rita Hayworth of the poetry world. Born in Rochester in 1950, Marie was one of 11 Catholic children, the kind of girl who read The Lives of the Saints in the bathtub and dreamt of a visionary life. A protégé of Stanley Kunitz (whom she remembers lovingly here), Howe is equally loved as writer, teacher, and mentor in the writing program at Sarah Lawrence. Her first book, The Good Thief, was selected by Margaret Atwood as the winner of the 1987 Open Competition of the National Poetry Series. In 1998, she published her best-known book of poems, What the Living Do, centered on her brother John's death from AIDS, and in 2008, The Kingdom of Ordinary Time. She has received honors from National Endowment for the Arts and Guggenheim fellowships among others.
An interview with Marie Howe follows.