cover image Concordance


Susan Howe. New Directions, $15.95 trade paper (120p) ISBN 978-0-8112-2959-3

Howe (Debths) frames poetry as a space for dialogue between traditions, literary forms, and artistic mediums in her meditative 11th work. Presented as collages, which cull text from the correspondence and personal papers of Henry David Thoreau, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Margaret Fuller, Howe’s poems skillfully demonstrate the range and possibilities of collage. Indeed, the gorgeous hybrids range from experiments in syntax to art pieces and visual poems that suggest the material nature of the archive, embodying the idea of literary inheritance. Many of these texts share an interest in challenging received ideas about logic, rationality, and sense-making: “There is no other way Eve the unknowable author of life will live to teach others, bruising the Serpent’s head from years of treading water under history,” Howe warns. As the book unfolds, logic that usually governs narratives is challenged as Howe reveals associative and dream logic that has been “treading water under history” all this time. “Recovering the lost is like entering enemy lines to get back one’s dead,” she declares. Full of thought-provoking juxtaposition, Howe’s latest is beautifully executed and astonishing. (May)