Additional Book Information
Series: NYRB Poets
Publication Date: October 27, 2020
Richard Howard Loves Henry James and Other American Writers
by Richard Howard, introduction by Timothy Donnelly
Richard Howard has long been recognized as one of America’s finest poets, celebrated as an author for his keen engagement with other authors, and especially for his sparkling and trenchant dramatic monologues and two-part inventions. Through the years, Howard has, in this way, given voice to all sorts of historical and literary figures, but two of his favorite subjects are two of his favorite writers—Walt Whitman and Henry James—and this book gathers an array of poems in which he responds to these great gay forebears, as well as to two other beloved Americans, Hart Crane and Wallace Stevens. Here Whitman the good gray poet opens his door to Bram Stoker and to Oscar Wilde; Henry James struggles to take stock of Los Angeles, where he is to have lunch with L. Frank Baum; Edith Wharton reminisces about her fraught friendship with the Master; poor Pansy from The Portrait of a Lady broods on her dreadful father; and late in life Wallace Stevens visits Paris—as Stevens never did. Howard’s wonderful inventions are as expansive and celebratory and human as Whitman, as deeply and subtly inquiring as James, as sumptuously meditative as Stevens, and as arresting and delightful as Richard Howard himself.
[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