Third Factory/Notes to Poetry

art is autonomous

Featured Title – Souls of the Labadie Tract by Susan Howe

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Susan Howe | Souls of the Labadie Tract | New Directions | 2007 | Goodreads | LibraryThing | 6 mentions in Attention Span 2008

howe-labadie-400x430I love the “lexical landscape” Howe creates in her books, this one in the time of the language of the Labadists, a 17th century Quietist sect. “with me here between us–of / our being together even in /english half english too late.” (Kristin Prevallet)

She makes other poets sound forced who strive to say one-quarter as much. Her secret? If you work your material until it’s in tatters, until it stains your thoughts and permeates your dreams, any stray word can be Sibylline. (Benjamin Friedlander)

The labadists, Howe tells us, “believed in…the necessity of inner illumination, diligence and contemplative reflection. Marriage was renounced. They held all property in common (including children) and supported themselves by manual labor and commerce.” The title sequence in this book is a stunning series of short, intensely drawn pieces exploring the psychic landscape opened for Howe by the labadists. (Meredith Quartermain)

Also mentioned by Michael Kelleher, Richard Deming, and David Dowker,

Written by Steve Evans

May 28, 2009 at 10:42 am

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