Barbara Howes

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Barbara Howes (May 1, 1914 New York City – February 24, 1996 Bennington, Vermont) was an American poet.


She was adopted by well-to-do Massachusetts family, and reared chiefly in Chestnut Hill, where she attended Beaver Country Day School. She graduated from Bennington College in 1937. She worked briefly for the Southern Tenant Farmers Union in Mississippi, and then edited the literary magazine, Chimera,[1] from 1943 to 1947 and lived in Greenwich Village. In 1947 she married the poet William Jay Smith, and they lived for a time in England and Italy. They had two sons, David and Gregory. They divorced in the mid-1960s, and she lived in Pownal, Vermont.[2]

In 1971, she signed a letter protesting proposed cuts to the School of the Arts, Columbia University.[3]

Her work was published in, Atlantic, Chicago Review, New Directions, New Republic, New Yorker,[4] New York Times Book Review, Saturday Review, Southern Review, University of Kansas Review, Virginia Quarterly Review, and Yale Review.


  • Golden Rose Award
  • nominated for the 1995 National Book Award for The Collected Poems of Barbara Howes, 1945-1990



  • The Undersea Farmer. Pawlet, VT: Banyan Press. 1948. 
  • In the Cold Country. New York City: Bonacio & Saul/Grove Press. 1954. 
  • Light and Dark. Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press. 1959. ISBN 978-0-8195-1001-3. 
  • Looking Up at Leaves. New York, NY: Knopf. 1966. 
  • The Blue Garden. Wesleyan University Press. 1972. ISBN 978-0-8195-2062-3. 
  • A Private Signal: Poems New and Selected. Wesleyan University Press. 1977. ISBN 978-0-8195-5013-2. 
  • Moving, Elysian Press (New York, NY), 1983.
  • The Collected Poems of Barbara Howes, 1945-1990. Fayetteville: University of Arkansas Press. 1995. ISBN 978-1-55728-336-8. 


  • 23 Modern Stories. Vintage. 1963. 
  • Gregory Jay Smith (1970). The Sea-Green Horse. Macmillan. 


  • From the Green Antilles: Writings of the Caribbean. New York, NY: Macmillan. 1966. 
  • The Eye of the Heart: Short Stories from Latin America. Indianapolis, Indiana: Bobbs-Merrill. 1973. 
  • The Road Commissioner and Other Stories, illustrated by Gregory Smith, Stinehour Press, 1983.


  • New Poems by American Poets, Ballantine (New York, NY), 1957
  • Modern Verse in English, Macmillan, 1958
  • Modern American Poetry, Harcourt (New York, NY), 1962
  • Poet's Choice, Dial (New York, NY), 1962
  • Modern Poets, McGraw (New York City), 1963
  • Of Poetry and Power, Basic Books (New York City), 1964
  • The Girl in the Black Raincoat, edited by George Garrett, Duell, Sloane & Pierce, 1966
  • The Marvelous Light, edited by Helen Plotz, Crowell (New York, NY), 1970
  • Inside Outer Space, edited by Robert Vas Dias, Anchor Books (New York, NY), 1970.


Reading the Collected Poems, one sees Howes very clearly as a woman writing in one of the oddest but most important traditions of American poetry. Howes stands with Marianne Moore, Elizabeth Bishop, and ultimately Emily Dickinson in a lineage of women writers passionately committed to the independence and singularity of the poetic imagination. (To this group one might also add Louise Bogan, Julia Randall, May Swenson, and Josephine Miles). They form an eccentric but eminent sorority.[5]


  1. ^ The Chimera: A Literary Quarterly, Volumes 1-3.
  2. ^ ERIC PACE (February 25, 1996). "Barbara Howes, Poet and Editor, Dies at 81". The New York Times. 
  3. ^ "School of the Arts". The New York Review of Books. 15 (12). January 7, 1971. 
  4. ^ "Barbara Howes", Contributors, The New Yorker.
  5. ^ Dana Gioia (1995). "A review of Collected Poems: 1945-1990, by Barbara Howes". The Dark Horse. 

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