New review of ‘Sharps’ in CV2

cv2-cover

I’m thrilled that Sharps has gotten some new reviews ~2 years on from publication, including a long close read from Lisa Pike in the newest issue of CV2:

“Stevie Howell’s first collection of poetry positions the reader at a crossroads of time & space via its themes of consumerism, capitalism, & social inequality….there is wisdom here to be heeded.”

 

New review of ‘Sharps,’ by Richard Greene

Really happy to be alerted to this new review of my book by the esteemed poet & professor Richard Greene, in the latest issue of University of Toronto Quarterly — reviews are always great but are especially sweet some time after the book has been out:

Stevie Howell is a poet of unusual intensity, and at her best she writes about terrible things in a manner that is wholly convincing. A Toronto poet, she has published widely and been nominated for several prizes. Her collection, ^^^^^^ ^^^^^^ ^^^^^^ [Sharps] (Icehouse Poetry), has been very well received, and rightly so. My slight hesitation about this book is the overabundance of references to popular culture: this is the done thing in the contemporary poetry scene, but very quickly these references become non-functional and somewhat self-congratulatory. Nonetheless, Howell is a poet of very real powers. In ‘‘A Gospel’’ she writes of a first-communion photograph, then of the persona’s loss of faith, her search for something believable among the Hare Krishna and other groups, letting

 

the Bahai indoctrinate me on Bloor one afternoon,
where they fed me channa in a muralized Olive Garden
basement. I left with a cassette
and a mental image of a savior cresting a hill
with a hankering for garlic bread.
My school and church were poverty and violence. A quadriplegic
classmate lived in a Winnebago. Her mother’s ex
cowered in a laundry hamper with a gun and shot her dead
one Sunday after Mass. That’s all I know.

 

Review: ‘Sharps’ in Matrix Magazine

I’m grateful to Roxanna Bennett & Matrix Magazine for a new review of Sharps. I’m so appreciative of her insight. + my book is just shy of its “terrible twos,” and it’s a pleasant surprise people are still finding it & finding some love for it!

QUOTE: “But grief / has an unknown half-life” Stevie Howell writes in “The Guard,” a poem placed before the title page of ^^^^^^ [Sharps], a blistering debut collection. This certainty is indicative of Howell’s work, an unblinkered engagement with the uncomfortable, a fearless interrogation of pain.[Sharps] scrutinizes death in all forms; of old age, illness, murder, and presents a pure grief untainted by sentimentality. Howell demonstrates a singular willingness to examine subject matter that is often ugly, and employs language with masterful skill and surgical detachment.

Read the whole thing here.

 

Interview: 5 Q’s w/International Festival of Authors

IFOA: Please tell us a bit about your debut book of poetry, ^^^^^^[Sharps].

© Neil Harrison

Stevie Howell: Sharps is my first book of poetry and emerged indirectly out of working in a hospital and beginning to study psychology. Those experiences gave me the tools to look at my life and issues around gender, class, trauma, faith and death.

I think of the book as grounded in the living city, but influenced by myth. It draws some inspiration from The Last Unicorn, in which the unicorn protagonist had to hide in female form to get her work done. It also draws inspiration from ancient Egyptian mythology of the afterlifefor example, the concept of ma’at, in which, when you die, your heart is weighed against a feather. A heavy heart, it was said, would be fed to a lion-hippo-crocodile hybrid. I write to try and prevent that!

Read the rest here.

 

Interview: Prism International asks about Birding in Wolfville

 

New poem, “Birding in Wolfville” out in this issue of Prism. Kayla Czaga interviewed me on their site about the story behind it (among other things).

I heard you wrote a poem about bird watching with Don McKay, but I couldn’t find it in the book?

As part of the book tour I did about five dates with my friend Kerry-lee Powell, whose book was out in the fall too, it’s called Inheritance. Then a bunch of dates were with Don McKay because his new book is also on Goose Lane. He’s such an amazing reader. He’s so spontaneous. Even his old stuff he reads like it’s brand new. He gets right back into it. He’s one of those people you meet and think, no wonder you’re successful, you’re great at everything—talking to people one on one, the chit-chat between poems, of course the actual reading. He never goes through the motions. He’s always present. I think it was really a master class in terms of those aspects of poetry.

He’s had a lot of time…

Yeah. We went to Wolfville, NS. It’s these windy roads, it’s a valley, and it’s temperate—they grow produce there; they have vineyards. It felt a little bit like New England, the vibe of it—clapboard houses, seaside-things, leaves were blowing down sideways. It was cliché, a little bit like, “This is fucking beautiful, man. Did I die?”

He drove us—I don’t drive—and all I could think was, “I can’t believe I’m making G-d drive me here.” I didn’t really ever rise to the occasion of being around him. I just walked around crushed. We went birdwatching and I didn’t know what the hell to say, I was all: “I guess you’re over seagulls, huh?” So you know, after I wrote a poem…

Whole thing here.