Fanny Howe


Griffin Poetry Prize 2001
International Shortlist

Book: Selected Poems

Poet: Fanny Howe

Publisher: University of California Press

Click here to read and listen to an excerpt.



Fanny Howe is Professor of Writing and Literature at the University of California, San Diego. One of the best and most respected experimental poets in the United States, she is the author of more than 20 books of fiction and poetry, most recently, Gone, 2003. Boston is the setting for some of the early poems, and Ireland, the birthplace of Howe’s mother, is the home of O’Clock, a spiritually piquant series of short poems included in Selected Poems.

Judges’ Citation

“Fanny Howe’s lyric meditations on matter and spirit, the soul exiled, and the wondrous strangeness of human life on earth are akin to Dickinson’s in their fierce wit, musicality and intelligence. Gathered from nine of her books spanning more than two decades, these poems articulate the inquisitive grace and courage of a secular contemplative, restoring to language its power to question the sacred in the interests of corporeal joy.”

Fanny Howe reads Veteran

Veteran, by Fanny Howe


I don’t believe in ashes; some of the others do.
I don’t believe in better or best; some of the others do.
I don’t believe in a thousand flowers or the first robin
of the year or statues made of dust. Some of the others do

I don’t believe in seeking sheet music
by Boston Common on a snowy day, don’t believe
in the lighting of malls seasonably
When I’m sleeping I don’t believe in time
as we own it, though some of the others might

Sad lace on green. Veterans stamping the leafy snow
I don’t believe in holidays
long-lasting and artificial. Some of the others do
I don’t believe in starlings of crenelated wings
I don’t believe in berries, red & orange, hanging on
threadlike twigs. Some of the others do

I don’t believe in the light on the river
moving with it or the green bulbs hanging on the elms
Outdoors, indoors, I don’t believe in a gridlock of ripples
or the deep walls people live inside

Some of the others believe in food & drink & perfume
I don’t. And I don’t believe in shut-in time
for those who committed a crime
of passion. Like a sweetheart
of the iceberg or wings lost at sea

the wind is what I believe in,
the One that moves around each form

© 2000 the Regents of the University of California

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