Like Most Revelations

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

LIKE MOST REVELATIONS is a collection of twenty-nine poems moving through the poetic forms and manners which have characterized Howard’s poetry. The signature poem, “Like Most Revelations,” departs with “It is the movement that incites the form/ discovered as a downward rapture—yes,” and closes the cycle with “Even though we give (give up) ourselves/ to this mortal process of continuing/ it is the movement that creates the form.” In the long poem “Occupations,” correspondences between art gallery manager Mathilde Bernheim, artists, and dealers are transformed into a picture window through which the struggles, foibles, and follies the great artists such as Henri Matisse and Pablo Picasso are seen persisting against their own decay and neglect by the world without. The anecdotal conversation in the poem lifts the art’s details and what the artists meant out of the obscurity of work.

The theme of the fragility, folly, and vanity of art and artists versus life as critic, as well as the disguises artistic genius must adopt for survival, is continued in witty, conversational poems such as “A Lost Art,” “Theory of Flight: 1908,” “To a Librettist at Liberty,” “Beatification,” and “After K452.” Anecdotal conversation is expanded upon in one of the book’s wittiest poems, “Poem Beginning with a Line by Isadora Duncan,” in which puns and imagery amuse, yet illuminate seriousness of emotional intent. In the powerful trio...

(The entire section is 468 words.)