My new book: “I left nothing inside on purpose”

My book, I left nothing inside on purpose, was released from McClelland & Stewart (Penguin Random House Canada) on March 27, 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 Hawaiian 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

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



Ought not these oldest sufferings of ours to be yielding more fruit by now? Is it not time that, in loving, we freed ourselves from the loved one, and, quivering, endured: as the arrow endures the string, to become, in the gathering out-leap, something more than itself?
For staying is nowhere.