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That This (New Directions Books)by Susan Howe
Synopses & Reviews
"What treasures of knowledge we cluster around." is a collection in three pieces. "Disappearance Approach," an essay about the sudden death of the author's husband ("land of darkness or darkness itself you shadow mouth"), begins the book with paintings by Poussin, an autopsy, Sarah Edwards and her sister-in-law Hannah, phantoms, elusive remnants, and snakes. "Frolic Architecture," the second section — inspired by visits to the vast 18th-century Jonathan Edwards archives at the Beinecke and accompanied by six black-and-white photograms by James Welling — presents hauntingly lovely, oblique text-collages that Howe (with scissors and "invisible" Scotch Tape and a Canon copier) has twisted, flattened, and snipped into "inscapes of force." The final section, "That This," delivers beautiful short squares of verse that might look at home in a hymnal, although their orderly appearance packs startling power: "The still-new century's finest metaphysical poet."--
"In this very beautiful four-part book, Howe (Souls of the Labadie Tract) seeks to come to terms with the sudden death of her third husband, the philosopher and scholar Peter H. Hare. The four sections take radically different formal 'approaches' to his loss, in the sense of going backwards in time, to the days just before Hare's fatal embolism, and in the sense of finding a means of understanding, or at least of moving forward. The first section uses a simple, diaristic prose through which Howe incorporates the terse capitals of Hare's autopsy, along with a variety of 18th-century epistolary condolences. The result conveys Howe's sense of 'being present at a point of absence where crossing centuries may prove to be like crossing languages.' The next section, 'Frolic Architecture,' comprises densely layered photocopied text fragments whose three-dimensional quality seems to extend into a fourth — time. The title section follows with seven pages of strophic, hymnlike verse, where 'Grass angels perish in this// harmonic collision because/ non-being cannot be Ã¢Â€Â˜this.'Â ' By the final, untitled collage, Howe has made her grief speak as much through textual interstices and shifts in diction and form as through each singular elegy. (Dec.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright PWyxz LLC)
Susan Howe's newest book of poetry is a revelation as well as a mystery.
About the Author
Poet Susan Howe's books include My Emily Dickinson, The Nonconformist's Memorial, Souls of the Labadie Tract, Pierce-Arrow, That This, and many others. She is a professor of English at the State University of New York, Buffalo, and a 1998 Guggenheim fellow.James Welling, b. 1951, is an acclaimed experimental artist who employs a wide variety of photographic tools and media.
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