Marie Howe: Silence and the Depth of Poetry (Part One)

Marie Howe is the former poet laureate of New York and the author of four volumes of poetry: Magdalene, The Kingdom of Ordinary Time, What the Living Do, and The Good Thief. She is also the co-editor of a book of essays, In the Company of My Solitude: American Writing from the AIDS Pandemic. Her poems have appeared in The New Yorker, The Atlantic, Poetry, Agni, Ploughshares, Harvard Review, and The Partisan Review, among others.

I do feel that people want community, they want to connect with each another. I just don’t think we want dogma; we don’t want anyone saying what something is, what it has to be. — Marie Howe

Cassidy says, “In my experience, Marie’s poetry has aways shown me the extraordinary in the moment at hand — whether that points me to pauses and internal silence while on the subway in NYC when I came across her poem ‘The Moment’ reminding me the the rush, slows to silence…” Or the embodied solidarity like I felt when I read ‘Magdalene on Gethsemane’ which reimagines what Jesus was really seeing in the garden the night before his torture and death — she writes that he ‘saw the others the countless in his name raped, burned, lynched, stoned, bombed, beheaded, shot, gassed, gutted and raped again….’”

How difficult it is to be in the presence of real joy. — Marie Howe

Marie joined us via Zoom from her home in Greenwich Village last June. With a poet’s eye and for imagery and ear for nuanced language, her thoughts on silence were both perceptive and beautiful.

Some of the resources and authors we mention in this episode:

I had a lot to learn; I had to learn to sit in a chair… to stay sitting in a chair was a triumph for me. I slowly began to learn that when I wanted to get up, that was the time to stay seated and keep writing. — Marie Howe

Episode 117: Silence and the Depth of Poetry: A Conversation with Marie Howe (Part One)
Hosted by: Cassidy Hall
With: Carl McColman, Kevin Johnson
Guest: Marie Howe
Date Recorded: June 1, 2020

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Carl McColman
Author of Befriending Silence, The Big Book of Christian Mysticism, Answering the Contemplative Call, and other books. Retreat leader. Speaker. Professed Lay Cistercian.