The Late Lyric

Part of the Modern and Contemporary Poetry and Poetics book series (MPCC)


Much of Howe’s recent work is defined by an encounter with lyric. In Rückenfigur, the Bed Hangings poems, and Souls of the Labadie Tract Howe incorporates repetitive structures into brief, short-lined, sound-driven poems that have a remarkable density.1 Although repetition, as I argued in my discussion of Thorow, has long been part of Howe’s technique, sound patterning, amplified by the compression of the writing, takes on a new prominence in this late work. These poems push at the edges of what might plausibly be called a lyric poem. This affinity with the lyric mode invites a reading that is oriented around a single voice, yet this notional voice is repeatedly exploded into polyphony by Howe’s continuing use of collage as an organizational principle.


Lyric Mode Romantic Love Late Lyric Radical Empiricism Lyric Poetry 
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© Will Montgomery 2010

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