One of the preeminent poets of her generation, Susan Howe is known for innovative verse that crosses genres and disciplines in its theoretical underpinnings and approach to history. Layered and allusive, her work draws on early American history and primary documents, weaving quotation and image into poems that often revise standard typography. Howe’s interest in the visual possibilities of language can be traced back to her initial interest in painting: Howe earned a degree from the Boston Museum School of Fine Arts in 1961, and enjoyed some success with gallery shows in New York. In addition to painting, Howe studied acting in Dublin. From an artistic, intellectual family, Howe’s mother Mary Manning was an actress and her father a law professor at Harvard; Howe’s sister Fanny Howe is also an acclaimed poet.
An idiosyncratic, important, and increasingly influential American poet, Howe has received numerous honors and awards for her work, including two American Book Awards from the Before Columbus Foundation and a Guggenheim fellowship; she has been a distinguished fellow at the Stanford Institute for Humanities, as well as the Anna-Maria Kellen Fellow at the American Academy in Berlin. She taught for many years at the State University of New York-Buffalo, where she held the Samuel P. Capen Chair of Poetry and the Humanities. In 2011, Susan Howe was awarded the Bollingen Prize in American Poetry from Yale University.