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Book Title

Second Childhood

Author 1
Fanny Howe
Poem Excerpt
People want to be poets for reasons that have little to do with language.
It’s the life of the poet that they want.
Even the glow of loneliness and humiliation.
To walk in the gutter with a bottle of wine.
Some people’s lives are more poetic than a poem,
and Francis is certainly one of these.
I know, because he walked beside me for that short time
whether you believe it or not.
—from “Outremer”
Fanny Howe’s poetry is known for its lyricism, fragmentation, experimentation, religious engagement, and commitment to social justice. In Second Childhood, the observing poet is an impersonal figure who accompanies Howe in her encounters with chance and mystery. She is not one age or the other, in one time or another. She writes, “The first question in the Catechism is: / What was humanity born for? / To be happy is the correct answer.”
“One of the boldest lyric poets in the United States.”—The Philadelphia Inquirer
“We cannot do without Fanny Howe.”—The Nation

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The new poetry collection by Fanny Howe, whose “body of work seems larger, stranger, and more permanent with each new book she publishes.”—Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize citation

About the Author

Fanny  Howe
Credit: Lynn Christoffers
Fanny Howe is the author of more than thirty works of poetry and prose, including Love and IThe Needle's Eye, Come and See, and The Winter Sun. Her most recent poetry collection, Second Childhood, was a finalist for the National Book Award, and her fiction has been honored as a finalist for the Man Booker International Prize. She lives in New England.
More by author


  • "The mystery of faith, the question of an afterlife, the joys and sorrows of motherhood and grandmotherhood—all are explored in this new volume by one of America's most dazzling poets."O, The Oprah Magazine
  • “The real triumph of [Howe’s] art . . . offers glimpses of the unseeable, shards of the unsayable, between the slats of the words, between meanings.”The New York Times Book Review
  • “Fanny Howe's sixteenth book of poetry, Second Childhood, is a spiritual meditation in human terms.”—National Book Award Judges' Citation
  • “Between the bookends of childhood and the promise of ‘meaning in the end,’ the world of the poem seeks delight in seeing through what Howe calls ‘gauze of a crystal kind. . . .’”World Literature Today, Editor’s Pick
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