Fanny Howe

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Fanny Howe
Fanny Howe.jpg
BornFanny Quincy Howe
(1940-10-15) October 15, 1940 (age 80)
Buffalo, New York, U.S.
OccupationPoet, novelist, and short story writer
Notable awards2005 Griffin Poetry Prize, 2001 Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize
RelativesMary Manning, Susan Howe

Fanny Howe (born October 15, 1940 in Buffalo, New York) is an American poet, novelist, and short story writer.[1][2] She was awarded the 2009 Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize,[3] presented annually by the Poetry Foundation to a living U.S. poet whose lifetime accomplishments warrant extraordinary recognition. She was a judge for the 2015 Griffin Poetry Prize.


Howe was born in Buffalo, New York. When her father Mark De Wolfe Howe left to join the fighting in World War II, Howe and her mother, the Irish playwright Mary Manning, moved to Cambridge, Massachusetts where she grew up.[4] Her father eventually became a colonel and served in Sicily and North Africa and then after the war he went to Potsdam to give legal advice in the reorganization of Europe.[5] After the war, her father continued his work as a lawyer and became a professor at Harvard Law School.

Howe's mother was an actress at the Abbey Theatre of Dublin for some time.[5] Her sister is Susan Howe, who also became a poet. She attended Stanford University for three years, and in 1961—the year she left Stanford—she married Frederick Delafield, whom she divorced two years later.[6] Her aunt was Helen Howe, a monologuist and novelist.

As a Civil Rights activist, she met and married the activist Carl Senna in the 1970s, who is of African-Mexican descent and is also a poet and writer. They are the parents of the novelist Danzy Senna, who writes about growing up biracial in the 1970s and 80s in her novel Caucasia. Howe and Senna also had two other children, Lucien Quincy Senna, and Maceo Senna.

She has taught at Tufts University, Emerson College, Kenyon College, Columbia University, Yale University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Georgetown University.[7] She is professor emerita of Writing and Literature at the University of California, San Diego. Currently she lives in Boston.


Today, Howe is one of the most widely read of American experimental poets,[citation needed] although her writing career began during the 1960s with a series of paperback original novels she published under the pseudonym Della Field.[5]

Howe has continued to publish novels throughout her career, including Lives of the Spirit/Glasstown: Where Something Got Broken (2005). She has also continued to publish in the essay form. Some of her essays have been collected, including The Wedding Dress: Meditations on Word and Life (2003)

Poet Michael Palmer:

Fanny Howe employs a sometimes fierce, always passionate, spareness in her lifelong parsing of the exchange between matter and spirit. Her work displays as well a political urgency, that is to say, a profound concern for social justice and for the soundness and fate of the polis, the "city on a hill". Writes Emerson, The poet is the sayer, the namer, and represents beauty. Here's the luminous and incontrovertible proof.[7]

Joshua Glenn:

Fanny Howe isn't part of the local literary canon. But her seven novels about interracial love and utopian dreaming offer a rich social history of Boston in the 1960s and '70s.[8]

Howe's prose poems, "Everything's a Fake" and "Doubt", were selected by David Lehman for the anthology Great American Prose Poems: from Poe to the Present (2003).[9] Her poem "Catholic" was selected by Lyn Hejinian for the 2004 volume of The Best American Poetry.[10]

Fanny Howe adding emphasis to her poetry at a West Tisbury Public Library gathering on Martha's Vineyard - 23 August 2012.

Howe's Selected Poems won the 2001 Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize. On the Ground was on the international shortlist for the 2005 Griffin Poetry Prize. Howe received the 2009 Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize.[3]



  • Eggs: poems, Houghton Mifflin, 1970
  • The Amerindian Coastline Poem, Telephone Books Press, 1975, ISBN 0-916382-08-7
  • Poem from a Single Pallet, Kelsey Street Press, 1980, ISBN 0-932716-10-5
  • Alsace-Lorraine, Telephone Books Press, 1982, ISBN 0-916382-28-1
  • For Erato: The Meaning of Life, 1984
  • Robeson Street, Alice James Books, 1985, ISBN 978-0-914086-59-8
  • Introduction to the World, Figures, 1986, ISBN 0-935724-21-4
  • The Lives of a Spirit, Sun & Moon Press, 1987, ISBN 0-940650-95-9
  • The Vineyard, Lost Roads Publishers, 1988, ISBN 978-0-918786-37-1
  • [sic], Parentheses Writing Series, October 1988, ISBN 978-0-9620862-2-9
  • The End, Littoral Books, 1992 ISBN 1-55713-145-7
  • The Quietist, O Books, 1992, ISBN 978-1-882022-12-0
  • O'Clock, Reality Street, 1995, ISBN 978-1-874400-07-3
  • One Crossed Out, Graywolf Press, 1997, ISBN 978-1-55597-259-2
  • Forged, Post-Apollo Press, 1999, ISBN 978-0-942996-36-4
  • Selected Poems, University of California Press, 2000, ISBN 978-0-520-22263-2 (shortlisted for the Griffin Poetry Prize)
  • Gone. University of California Press. 2003. ISBN 978-0-520-23810-7.
  • Tis of Thee, Atelos, 2003, ISBN 978-1-891190-16-2
  • On the Ground, Graywolf Press, 2004, ISBN 978-1-55597-403-9 (also shortlisted for the Griffin Poetry Prize)
  • The Lives of a Spirit/Glasstown: Where Something Got Broken Nightboat Books, 2005, ISBN 978-0-9767185-1-2
  • The Lyrics, Graywolf Press, 2007, ISBN 978-1-55597-472-5
  • (with Henia Karmel-Wolfe and Ilona Karmel) A Wall of Two: Poems of Resistance and Suffering from Kraków to Buchenwald and Beyond, University of California Press, 2007, ISBN 978-0-520-25136-6
  • Outremer, Poetry Magazine, September 2011, ISSN 0032-2032
  • Come and See: Poems, Graywolf Press, 2011, ISBN 978-1-55597-586-9
  • Second Childhood: Poems. Graywolf Press. 18 November 2014. pp. 29–. ISBN 978-1-55597-917-1.[11]
  • Love and I: Poems, Graywolf Press, 2019, ISBN 978-1-64445-004-8


Young adult fiction[edit]




  1. ^ Zimmer, Melanie (2008). "Fanny Quincy Howe". In Byrne, James Patrick; Coleman, Philip; King, Jason Francis (eds.). Ireland and the Americas: Culture, Politics, and History : A Multidisciplinary Encyclopedia, Volume 2. ABC-CLIO. pp. 427–430. ISBN 978-1-85109-614-5.
  2. ^ "2005 Shortlist - Fanny Howe". The Griffin Trust for Excellence in Poetry. Retrieved 2011-06-27.
  3. ^ a b "Fanny Howe and Ange Mlinko Receive Major Literary Awards from Poetry Foundation". The Poetry Foundation. April 14, 2009. Retrieved 2011-06-27.
  4. ^ "Fanny Howe". The Poetry Foundation. Retrieved 2011-06-27.
  5. ^ a b c "Fanny Howe on Race, Family, and the Line Between Fiction and Poetry - Literary Hub". Retrieved 3 November 2016.
  6. ^ "Fanny (Quincy) Howe". Retrieved 2012-06-14.
  7. ^ a b "Fanny Howe". The Academy of American Poets. Retrieved 2011-06-27.
  8. ^ Joshua Glenn (March 7, 2004). "Bewildered in Boston". The Boston Globe.Subscription required.
  9. ^ Lehman, David, ed. (2003). "Fanny Howe". Great American Prose Poems: from Poe to the Present. Simon and Schuster. ISBN 978-0-7432-2989-0.
  10. ^ Hejinian, Lyn; Lehman, David, eds. (2004). "Catholic". The Best American Poetry 2004. Simon and Schuster. ISBN 978-0-7432-5757-2.
  11. ^ Treseler, Heather (October 20, 2015). "Little Gods". Boston Review. Retrieved 2015-10-20. Howe transfigures our quicksilver hungers and contemporary condition into an art true to “the secular rule of life.” If Howe’s voice is that of the escaping nymph managing our shipwreck, we might not be safer than in her tote, finding our hope in the empathy that is imagining.

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