VOLUME 30, NUMBER 33 THURSDAY, May 20, 1999

Howe elected to American Academy of Arts and Sciences

send this article to a friend

News Services Editor

Critic David Meltzer has called UB English Professor Susan Howe "one of America's covert triumphs of poetry...(whose) manifold brilliance is grounded in a deeply webbed sense of self in history and history in self."

A noted literary critic as well as a celebrated poet, Howe is one of nine literary figures from here and abroad recently elected to membership in the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Election to this honorary learned society is one of the greatest distinctions in intellectual and artistic achievement. Founded during the American revolution, the academy's 3,300 fellows and 550 foreign honorary members are from the arts, sciences, humanities and public life, and include 168 Nobel laureates and 58 Pulitzer-Prize winners.

Howe is strongly associated with the Language Poets' movement of the late 1970s and 1980s, and her poetry and scholarship can be described as language-based and experimental. Literary critics have applied her observations of Emily Dickinson's work to Howe's own work: "Poetry," she wrote, "is affirmation in negation, ammunition in the yellow eye of a gun that an allegorical pilgrim will shoot straight into the quiet of night's frame."

She is the author of several books of poetry, beginning with "Hinge Picture" in 1974 and continuing through major idiosyncratic and significant works, such as "The Liberties," "Pythagorean Silence," "Defenestration of Prague" and "Singularities." And she is the author of highly regarded books of essays, including "The Capture Morphology." More recent books of poetry include "The Nonconformist's Memorial: Poems by Susan Howe" and "Selected Poems: 1974-1978." Her books of criticism include "Incloser" and "The Birth-mark: Unsettling the Wilderness in American Literary History." Howe is best-known, however, for her acclaimed critical study "My Emily Dickinson" (1985), considered a landmark in creative scholarship. By employing historical sources, she was able to fuse Calvinist and Indian-captivity texts into "influences" that entered into early American rhetoric as related to spiritual and material ideologies.

Her work has been widely anthologized and celebrated with lectures and poetry readings at major national and international universities, literary festivals and conferences. She twice has received the Before Columbus Foundation American Book Award-for "Secret History of the Dividing Line" and for "My Emily Dickinson." She also has received two Fund for Poetry Awards and the Roy Harvey Pierce Award for a Poet and a Critic from the University of California, San Diego.

Howe has been the subject of a number of critical analyses, including those by Marjorie Perloff, Rachel Blau Du Plessis, Bruce Andrews and Charles Bernstein. The periodicals Abacus, The Difficulties and Talisman have devoted entire issues to her poetry.

In the academy's literary section this year, Howe's fellow inductees include poets Lucille Clifton and Jorie Graham; novelists Louise Erdrich, Tim O'Brien and Edmund White, and "Prairie Home Companion" author Garrison Keillor. In the fine arts section, new members include actresses Jane Alexander, Meryl Streep and Uta Hagen; directors Robert Altman, Mike Nichols and Steven Spielberg; dancer/choreographer Mikhail Baryshnikov, and cellist Janos Starker.

Front Page | Top Stories | Briefly | Kudos | Jobs | Events
Current Issue | Comments? | Archives | Search
UB Home | UB News Services | UB Today