Fanny Howe was born in Buffalo, New York, in 1940 and raised in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Howe is the daughter of the Dublin-born playwright and novelist Mary Manning and of Mark DeWolfe Howe, a Boston Brahmin and Harvard Law School professor.
Howe is the author of more than twenty books of poetry and prose. Her recent collections of poetry include Second Childhood (Graywolf Press, 2014); Come and See (Graywolf Press, 2011); The Lyrics (Graywolf Press, 2007); On the Ground (Graywolf Press, 2004); Gone: Poems (University of California Press, 2003); Selected Poems (University of California Press, 2000); Forged (Post-Apollo Press, 1999); Nod (Sun & Moon Press, 1998); One Crossed Out (Graywolf Press, 1997); O’Clock (Reality Street, 1995); and The Deep North (Sun & Moon Press, 1990).
Howe is also the author of several novels and prose collections, including, The Winter Sun: Notes on a Vocation (Graywolf Press, 2009); The Lives of a Spirit / Glasstown: Where Something Got Broken (Nightboat Books, 2005); and Nod (Sun & Moon Press, 1998). She has written short stories, books for young adults, and the collection of literary essays The Wedding Dress: Meditations on Word and Life (University of California Press, 2003).
Poet Michael Palmer commented:
Fanny Howe employs a sometimes fierce, always passionate, spareness in her lifelong parsing of the exchange between matter and spirit. Her work displays as well a political urgency, that is to say, a profound concern for social justice and for the soundness and fate of the polis, the ‘city on a hill.’ Writes [Ralph Waldo] Emerson, “The poet is the sayer, the namer, and represents beauty.” Here’s the luminous and incontrovertible proof.
Howe was the recipient of the 2009 Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize. She also won the 2001 Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize for her Selected Poems, and has won awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Poetry Foundation, the California Council for the Arts, and the Village Voice. She has received fellowships from the Bunting Institute and the MacArthur Colony. She was shortlisted for the Griffin Poetry Prize in 2001 and 2005.
Howe has lectured in creative writing at Tufts University, Emerson College, Columbia University, Yale University, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She is currently a professor emerita of writing and American literature at the University of California, San Diego.