a talent for avoiding the predictable and deconstructing the recognisable - Stride
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About Anthony Howell
Anthony Howell is a poet, novelist and performance artist, whose first collection of poems, Inside the Castle, was published in 1969. He has since published 17 volumes of poetry (among them translations and a Selected Poems). His most recent collection is Silent Highway (Anvil, 2014), of which one reviewer remarked: ‘These are elegant poems which demonstrate Howell’s talent for avoiding the predictable and deconstructing the recognisable’.
A former dancer with the Royal Ballet and now a respected teacher of the tango, Howell was founder of The Theatre of Mistakes, which created notable performances worldwide in the 1970s and ’80s at venues such as the Paris Biennale, the Sydney Biennale, the Paula Cooper Gallery in New York and London’s Tate and Haywood galleries. He has also published two novels, In the Company of Others (Marion Boyars, 1986) and Oblivion (Grey Suit, 2006), as well as a play and an academic monograph on performance art, among other works. His involvement in these different but complementary mediums is evident in his poetry, which is characterised by a certain dramatic energy and an emphasis on narrative. Some poems are darkly humorous, such as the chilling ‘Innisfree’, in which the speaker jauntily describes abandoning his ageing mother in favour of pursuing a thankless relationship with a woman interested in someone else: ‘Neglecting my old mum, / I’d lie abed with Kerry-Lee, / While she got through the rum.’
The poems also place close attention to rhyme and form. As Luke Kennard wrote in a Poetry London review of The Ogre’s Wife (Anvil, 2009), ‘Howell has a lovely, natural sense of metre’. In his recordings the poet delivers his work with an ear to its cadences and the dramatic possibilities of language.
Howell was shortlisted for a Pernod Poetry Award in 1969 and a Paul Hamlyn Award in 1997. His versions of the Silvae of Statius were well received and Plague Lands, his versions of the poems of Iraqi poet Fawzi Karim, was a Poetry Book Society Recommendation in 2011. He is currently curating The Room, a space for dance, poetry and visual art in Tottenham.