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« Two Poems [by Mitch Sisskind] | Main | "Sportswriter" [by Dean Smith] »

November 05, 2021


Lovely reminiscence. I had always heard it as "Prose proposes, verse reverses..."

Beautiful. Made my day.

You really captured Richard, including his amazing generosity and energy, as well as the brilliance.


I love the piece about Richard. But he would not understand the references to baseball. He once said to me, "Dear, whenever you talk about sports a nictitating membrane comes down over my eye and I practically perish from boredom." Otherwise, you have pitched an excellent game.

Howard's ALONE WITH AMERICA was my guiding light into poetry, and the book still lights up the room.

Thanks for this excellent piece, David. I don't think I've ever met Richard in person, but we've had some contact over the years, and I have always impressed with his deep knowledge and generous spirit. As with Grace, Alone with America was for me an important and illuminating book.

Thanks for this wonderful tribute. I just wanted to add that despite his highly developed sensibility, Richard's life was not entirely about books and art. He enjoyed the neighborhood restaurants. He loved to laugh. More than once I saw him happily walking his dog, Gide. Once he told me that he'd spent the morning at the washing machine in his building. His dailiness, coupled with a love of simple pleasures, lurked behind his immense erudition.

Thank you for this celebration of Richard. If not for his very early support and love of my work, I may not have had the confidence to push on. When I would go to his apartment on Waverly Place to have him critique my poems, we would end up talking about Leontyne Price and Shostakovich and our beloved pets. (Gide was an adorable, gassy little dog.) Oh, I agree, Richard did not compete with his students; he did not begrudge their success. He could get upset with a student's arrogance, but he would easily forgive. He taught me so much. Finally, his translations of Baudelaire are the most beautiful and faithful in the whole world. I hold Richard Howard close to my heart.

A lovely recollection. But I would add that another of Richard's contributions to American poetry was his editing of the Braziller Series -- first (or very early) books by Bidart, Dubie, McClatchy, Simic, Strand ...
Thanks for writing this mini-portrait. I will never forget the lunch you, he and I had at a coffee shop around the corner from his place -- such a happy memory!

I love your reminiscences. Here's my tale of Richard: I ran into him in the Village one rainy day, he was coming up out of Danal, that downstairs restaurant on Tenth Street. This was around 1990. A few years before, I had attended his always-packed class at the School of the Arts. He said, you will come to see me and you will bring me your songs. He was famous for cultivating young poets--I never imagined that I would be one of them. I was barely writing; I had almost given up, but I knew I could not say no to Richard. I got some old drafts out of a drawer and made a date to go see him. It wasn't far; we were neighbors. He looked over each one carefully, nodded, and said, come to see me again in six months, and bring me more songs. And then again, and again. One of those times he said, these three poems are a sequence, and you will write many more of them, and I will publish them in the Paris Review. After I had eleven, he published them and gave them a prize; then he passed them to John Hollander who put them in his Best American Poetry--David's and his. That was the start of my first book. Then he went on to read every poem I wrote, slowly, one by one, sometimes putting a question mark beside a word, or drawing an arrow to show that a stanza should be moved. Yes, dear, he would say, nodding. It was as though he had taken my hand and was walking me toward myself. This is the greatest gift I've ever been given. He was also a good friend and great talker, though his views on life were primmer than anyone would think. Am I right? Grace, David L., Eddie, David Alexander, Jennifer-hugs to all of you and loads of nostalgia

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I left it
on when I
left the house
for the pleasure
of coming back
ten hours later
to the greatness
of Teddy Wilson
"After You've Gone"
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in the corner
of the bedroom
as I enter
in the dark

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