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Fanny Howe is the author of over twenty books of poetry and prose including Gone: Poems (2003), Selected Poems (2000), Forged (1999), One Crossed Out (1997), O’Clock (1995), The End (1992), For Erato; The Meaning of Life (1984), Alsace-Lorraine (1982) and Poem from a Single Pallet (1980). The recipient of the 2002 Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize for Selected Poems (2000), she has also won awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Poetry Foundation, the California Council for the Arts and the Village Voice, as well as fellowships from the Bunting Institute and the MacArthur Colony. Howe was shortlisted for the Griffin Poetry Prize in 2001.

Born in Buffalo New York in 1940, Howe is a prolific poet, novelist and essayist who has won multiple awards for her collections of poetry and novels for young adults. A creative writing teacher of note, Howe has lectured at Tufts University, Emerson College, Columbia University, Yale University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She is Professor Emerita of Writing and Literature at the University of California, San Diego.

On the Ground

Graywolf Press
2005 Shortlist
United States
Shortlisted in:

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.

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.

Judges’ Citation

These are startling, beautiful, challenging poems that work within the troubled and chafed borders and interfacings between spirit and material world to ask that basic question: how can we live?

These are startling, beautiful, challenging poems that work within the troubled and chafed borders and interfacings between spirit and material world to ask that basic question: how can we live? How can we be ordinary with each other (so necessary) in these times of war and political terror that try to keep our lives in a ‘state of exception’ that seems to justify cruelty? Howe’s poems are firmly on the ground but not grounded; they use lyric energy and phrasings in new ways that are deft, open, and have synaptic intelligence. Here, poetic transport is not transcendent, not consolation; it is earth-bound, immediate and enamoured. This is a book that teaches us to be ecstatic about poetry; in it we hear the frayed and difficult passages of our thought and place as humans, our restive worry and our longing for peaceful cohabitation with all others. On the Ground is an essential book for our times.