Blurbs for “I left nothing inside on purpose”

The cover of my book, I left nothing inside on purpose, is complete! I am so totally blown away that 2 of my favorite writers, Nick Flynn & Shane McCrae, agreed to read & provide blurbs. Blurbing a book is such an enormous act of good will. W/both writers, I have vivid memories of first encountering their work, & thought I’d write about my love for them b/c this makes me nostalgic. I’m just so grateful to them both.

I used to own a bookstore in a small town, in my 20s (it’s a long story for another day). But I looking through the advance catalogs you get of the books coming out next season, & saw Nick Flynn’s memoir, Another bullshit night in suck city. I though it was the absolute best title I’d ever heard. I ordered it in, & quickly kept it for my own stash. I’d never read anything like it, & still haven’t–except for Nick’s other work. He circles back over scenes with different takes, as if trying to get un-stuck from them. It is obsessive & not overwrought & totally beautiful. I’ve read all his work & this one many times–for some reason, I made it tradition to read it on a plane, b/c the whole vibe is sort of about being there & not there. I’ve read & loved & learned from everything by him.

With Shane McCrae, I was meeting an awesome writer/my really good friend Kerry-Lee Powell for dinner, & I was early & went into a used bookstore. There was a copy of Shane McCrae’s book, Mule. I bought it, having faintly heard of him at the time, & thinking I could kill some time w/it before she arrived. I didn’t know what I was in for! I had a complete physiological reaction, a rush, a sense of disbelief–almost like anxiety, but good!! It was thrilling. His themes, his style, every page I was all just “you can do that?” & “HOW’d he do that?” I’ve read this book more times than I can count, as well as all his other books. His newest, In the language of my captor, is painful & incredible.

These two writers have inspired me so much, & for so long, that it’s really hard to believe they read my work & saw something in it. I owe them multiple debts–not just for the blurbs, but for the inspiration. For example, I wrote one poem in my book, “Hollow all the way down,” in a class w/Nick Flynn in Provincetown, hardly able to look at him, & kicking & screaming against his techniques (which I’ve since incorporated!). The first poem in my book, “I welcomed the wound &” is influenced by a line in Shane McCrae’s Mule. His first poem, “The cardinal is the marriage bird,” ends,



welcoming the wound



Forthcoming book: “I left nothing inside on purpose”

My book, I left nothing inside on purpose, will be out  from McClelland & Stewart (Penguin Random House) March 2018. About the book: 

Poems of stringent aesthetic demands & volcanic emotional release make up Stevie Howell’s wondrous collection. These poems verge on prayer in their intense plea to be truly seen by another, a devotional sequence addressing our attachments. Can we change? Has anyone ever changed? Does it matter? Lives marred by injury & violence, both physical & psychic, emerge as meditations on trust, faith, & love. The Hawai’ian surf, the neuropsychologist’s lab, the deliriums of social media, & the recovery room. From geology to theology, lyric pain to the contemplative mind of the quasi-saint, I left nothing inside on purpose is a glittering analysis of who we are when we claim to be ourselves in the world.

To order in the United States:


Barnes & Noble

To order in Canada:

McNally Robinson

Chapbook “Summer” reissued

My chapbook, Summer, sold out of its initial print run (100 copies) & so the wonderful publisher, Desert Pets Press, decided to do another small printing (50 copies). As of writing, about 20 copies are left & they won’t be reprinted after that.

You can order a copy through their Etsy store.



How many nights must it take
one such as me to learn
that we aren’t, after all, made
from that bird that flies out of its ashes,
that for us
as we go up in flames, our one work
to open ourselves, to be
the flames?

—Galway Kinnell

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Chapbook “Summer” nominated for bpNichol Award

Really thrilled to tell you my chapbook, Summer, from Desert Pets Press, has just been announced as a finalist for the bpNichol Chapbook Award. We launched this on Oct 29, 2016, so it’s really a lovely anniversary gift! I’m living in & going to school in New York right now, & it’s a challenging transition, so this nomination is a deeply appreciated tether to my hometown & the community of writers who’ve raised me up.

I tend not to be nostalgic, but I have an inordinate amount of nostalgia for this chapbook. I wrote about some painful personal things in it, but I also played a lot w/ form & space in a way that was also really joyous. But I think so much of my nostalgia is rooted in the wonderful work Desert Pets Press did on the flow & layout. Stuff I’m so grateful they imagined! Just like the cover itself is split between light & dark, the second half of this chapbook features black pages, w/ white text. That section contains one long poem, “Dew,” which I’ve described as a “children’s picture book w/o pictures.” I am still so awed at how Emma Dolan (designer) & Catriona Wright (editor) shaped this work into such a beautiful artifact.