...Thinking about the heretical, that which questions, complicates, disrupts in order to illuminate, helps form for me an entrance into the poems comprising Emergence, Fanny Howe’s most recent publication from the small British press Reality Street. The book collects poems originally published in the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s that are now largely out of print. Howe is an experimental poet and a Catholic. She is also deeply immersed in a long tradition of Christian history, theology, mystical literature, and heresy. In her prose meditations collected in The Wedding Dress, she discusses with acuity and enthusiasm influential yet controversial Christian thinkers such as Marcion, Meister Eckhart, Saint Teresa of Avila, Saint John of the Cross, Simone Weil, and Edith Stein. Gnosticism, Quietism, Apophatic Theology, Thomism, Sufi, Hindu, Buddhist, and Muslim thought all appear in her work as mooring points from which the poet casts her broad net.
The structure of Emergence maps a trajectory, the aesthetic evolution of Howe’s career over the past decades. It shows that Howe, at her core, is a poet of deep disruption — of complication — but also one of contemplation, which is to say, a poet for whom humility and reverence walk hand in hand with restless inquiry. Hers are poems sharpened by questions designed not to elicit totalizing answers from God or reader, but to dredge up new possibilities for both faith and poetry... READ THE REVIEW