Fanny Howe: Glorious perservance
Poetry is a way for humans to relate to the world. More than heard or read, it is to be experienced. The poetry of Fanny Howe, a 68-year-old West Tisbury resident, has for all her life been translating the human condition from words to feeling.
Last month the Poetry Foundation awarded the Ruth Poetry Prize to Ms. Howe, with its $100,000 award. It is given annually to a United States poet for lifetime accomplishment. In announcing the Lilly Prize, Christian Wiman, editor of Poetry magazine, said: "Fanny Howe is a religious writer whose work makes you more alert and alive to the earth, an experimental writer who can break your heart."
The prize-winning author of more than 20 books of fiction, poetry, and critical essays, Ms. Howe was introduced to poetry at an impressionable age. She began writing as a teenager as a way to make a space for herself in a creative and accomplished Cambridge family: her father, Mark DeWolfe Howe, a distinguished law professor at Harvard; her Irish-born mother, Mary Manning, a playwright and actress who played in the Abbey Theatre of Dublin, and was a founder of the Poets' Theatre in Cambridge; and her older sister, Susan Howe, a poet. For her 16th birthday, she received an anthology of modern poetry from her sister, and still brightens at the memory: "I just fell in love with it."