Additional Book Information
Series: NYRB Poets
Publication Date: June 23, 2020
Richard Howard Loves Henry James and Other American Writers
by Richard Howard, introduction by Timothy Donnelly
Richard Howard is widely recognized as one of America's finest poets, and he has been especially celebrated for his sparkling and trenchant dramatic monologues based on the lives of historical figures. Howard's monologues have brought to life the voices of all sorts of different people, but two of his favorite subjects are two of his favorite writers—Walt Whitman and Henry James—and at the heart of this book are the numerous poems he has devoted to these great forebears, which are gathered here in a single volume for the first time. Howard's angles of approach are always unexpected: he shows us Whitman reckoning with Bram Stoker and Oscar Wilde; Henry James trying to make sense of Los Angeles, where he is being set up for lunch with L. Frank Baum; and much more. Howard's monologues are above all inspired and revelatory dialogues, as expansive and celebratory as Walt Whitman and as subtly inquiring as Henry James.
[Howard] does remarkable impersonations of other figures. But behind it is a kind of meditation about being a person, and how to be a person and become an artist.
—Edward Hirsch, The Paris Review
I think of Richard Howard as a very central figure in our culture, maintaining and giving eloquent voice and illustration to standards that are in peril today.
What seems unarguable . . . is that in the landscape of American poetry no other poet, setting up a homestead for himself, has toiled so diligently to breed such a herd (of poems that take artists as their subject): creatures whose dam is art and whose sire is art.
—Brad Leithauser, The New York Times
Richard's work in and on behalf of poetry is, precisely, an antidote to hopelessness.
—Craig Morgan Teicher, Los Angeles Review of Books