Susan Howe is a true trailblazer in the poetry world. Her work can be classified as belonging to the language poets; she constantly bends the rules of poetry, playing with new and unusual formats, and patterns of sound. Her most recent book, "That This" is a great testament to her craft. She really uses the space of the page to enact her poems, and is one of the few contemporary poets to interrogate the form of the book through her poetry and its arrangement on the page.
This week I was fortunate enough to be in New York City when the Center for Book Arts was holding a reading for Susan Howe and Douglas Crase. Part of the Center's Broadside series, Susan read from "That This" and gave great insight into the origins of this collection. She uses different sections of the text to address the loss of her husband. I found the section entitled, 'Frolic Architecture' particularly moving. Fragments of photocopied text are layered on the page, words are cut off mid-line, and the resulting sounds appear to bear up the poet's grief.
Everyone who attended the reading was given a broadside that was hand printed by the artists in residence, and signed by the poet. The Center for Book Arts in New York holds 12 Broadside readings throughout the course of the year, with a recommended admission price of $10.