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The poems of Pulitzer Prize-winner Richard Howard are noted for their unique dramatic force and for preserving, in their graceful, exquisitely wrought lines, human utterance at its most urbane. Here, in the first volume to draw together material from Howard’s twelve books of poems, readers can fully appreciate the erudite nuances of his lyric poetry and the superb human and historical bravura of his dramatic monologues and imagined conversations among famous figures. Inner Voices leaves no doubt as to why Howard has been “a powerful presence in American poetry for 40 years” (The New York Times Book Review).
In Richard Howard’s new collection, voices of myth and memory prevail, if only by means of prevarication: the voice of Medea’s mother trying to explain her daughter’s odd behavior to an indiscreet interviewer; or first and last the voice of Henry James, late in life, faced with the disputed prospect of meeting L. Frank Baum and then, later on, “managing” not only Maeterlinck’s Blue Bird but his own unruly cast of characters, including Mrs. Wharton and young Hugh Walpole.
Richard Howard has been writing stylish, deeply informed commentary on modern culture and literature for more than four decades. Here is a selection of his finest essays, including some never before published in book form, on a splendid range of subjects—from American poets like Emily Dickinson and Marianne Moore to French artists such as Rodin and Michel Delacroix. Also included are considerations of modern sculpture and of the photography of the human body. Howard’s intense familiarity with modern poetry is seen to excellent effect in essays on the “poetry of forgetting,” on the causes and effects of experimental poetry, and on the first books of poets whose work he helped introduce—among them, J. D. McClatchy, Frank Bidart, and Cynthia MacDonald. Of course, Howard brings to his consideration of French literature a rare wisdom drawn from his celebrated work as a translator of Stendhal and Gide, Barthes and Cocteau, Yourcenar and Gracq. …[more]
This brilliant collection of poems by one of America’s most distinguished men of letters shows Richard Howard in a new phase: stronger, more resonant, more distinctive than ever. Two long, dramatic poems serve as the beginning and end of Like Most Revelations. In each, intimate perceptions are linked with the forces of the larger world: the world in which the speakers age, argue, founder, and face their fates. In between are twenty-seven poems ranging from monologue and epistle to elegy and satire. There are meditations on graffiti and Mozart, tributes to Samuel Beckett and Donald Barthelme, among others. Here too are poems of remembered identification and of dazed renunciation; poems of praise and poems of lamentation. Harold Bloom has called Richard Howard “the Robert Browning of our century,” and certainly the monologues here have a power similar to Browning’s. But they are also as immediate as today’s newspaper. Superbly crafted and impressively varied, Like Most Revelations is Richard Howard’s finest book of poems to date.