Marie Howe — The Poetry of Ordinary Time
April 25, 2013

An enchanting hour of poetry drawing on the ways family and religion shape our lives. Marie Howe works and plays with her Catholic upbringing, the universal drama of family, and the ordinary time that sustains us. The moral life, she says, is lived out in what we say as much as what we do — and so words have a power to save us.

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Selected Poems

The Poet Reads Her Poems

You can read and listen to all the poetry Marie Howe recited for us during our interview. Enjoy and share them with others:

» Magdelene—The Seven Devils
» Annunciation
» Prayer
» Hurry
» The Gate
» The Meadow

Selected Video

In the Room with Marie Howe (video)

Watch Krista's unedited conversation with the acclaimed poet in the "old library" at the College of Saint Benedict in St. Joseph, Minnesota. It's an intimate 90 minutes of discussion about faith and relationships, the role of language in our contemporary lives, and ways to move forward.

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Catholic Latinos are not only turning to evangelical and Pentecostal churches. Shweta Saraswat on those who are learning the spiritual practices of their indigenous ancestors such as the Aztecs, and those who are trying to do both.

Listen to Marie Howe read these striking lines from her poem. Her ability to read her own work is marvelous.

As we rush forward into the work week, a poem to slow us down, turn us about, and maybe just maybe, laugh at ourselves. Marie Howe reads her poem "Hurry."

Vigorous discussions on what we're owed and what we earn, the slow work of healing, and stories of inspiration about being alone in this busy world.

A poem about friendship and intimacy, waiting and being present in the moment that is heartbreaking and heartening in its song.

With a simple idea and chalk, street art welcomes people to stand inside "happiness" to "provoke thought about what happiness is."

A wandering reflection arriving at a "found poem." The muse? Our show with Marie Howe. Simply marvelous.

These vids from BBC's "Poetry Season" bring Byron and Blake to life — through punk rock and a soccer presser? Absolutely riveting!

About the Image

An art project chalked on the sidewalk in the Bowery District of Manhattan reads: "Consider for a moment what happiness means to you and step inside the box; it could be anywhere you want, really."

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Comments

What a great show. Thanks for bringing this beautiful lady into our being!

LIstening to your interview with Marie Howe is so thought-provoking from her reading of The Meadow, to your question about real time to "This" to the 140 character tweets as poetry. These are the questions of our time. Thank you so much.

Thank you for introducing this poet to your program. Another great program.

This was a delightful. I felt like I was blessed to listen in on a private conversation about life and our challenges in living it. Our "reverence" for technology ( being drawn to stare at our iPhones all day) is similar to any icon or being we revere, we need a willingness to approach with awareness and balance. Each weekend as I do my chores ( gardening, cleaning, etc) I am enriched as I listen to "On Being" , Darma talks, or TED radio hour. The access to these via technology actually offers me respite from the hurried rest of my day and encourages me to stop and just be.

language is not at all we have left for action. poetry is very inspiring indidivdually but also evanescent. tim berners lee made the moral decision to take action and not try to control his insight and allowed the web to be born. words are not nearly that powerful to change the world. engineers and software programmers of algorithms change for the world for the better

The program I just listened to, i with Marie Howe, was unbelieveably great!!! Did not know of her before, so I am thankful you had her on! I will be digging in to her works and just learning more about her, she seems awesome!! Oh, how I could relate to the conversation. I hope you have her on again soon!! Thank you, great program!!

Mary Magdalene ... Oh my gosh. What a poem.
Great interview. Thanks so much.

I invite the poet to return to the Catholic Church - ever ancient, ever new.

I would also invite Krista to invite on her program a Catholic intellectual - George Weigel, or Father Rutler, or Father Mitch Pacwa, for example. Thanks!

I am so happy to have heard your discussion with Marie Howe. I loved her stories about growing up Catholic. She is a wonderful poet and beautiful woman. She has changed the way I feel about poetry. I can not wait to read her books. Fantastic

I'm sorry I dn't know where I've been hiding or what I've been reading, watching or listening to- but I heard your show Kristen, for the 1st time today, and heard Marie talk and read a few poems, and now I am a fan of both of you. It was a beautifully honest interview that touched me. Thanks.

Marie Howe's interview with Krista Tippet got me to think about the relationship we have with language. How do we are troubled describing the seemingly mundane with the fact that it is the mundane that is our lives. The stories that Howe tells of her students, not being able to describe what they see everyday is typical of my generation, I think. We are always told to, "stop and smell the roses," and yet rarely do or know how to. I think what Howe is trying to illustrate is that the only way to deal with humanity is through art. It alone has the feelings and imagery to describe existence that is living and dying, simultaneously.

Ordinary time seems to be the everyday. This everyday is powerful if we live in the now or live in the moment. Howe also showed the power of Alcohol on a family of origin. It can create havoc, as she states. When I was getting sober I went to a new age treatment center, devoted to the idea that if you lived constantly in the moment, you would not have to seek your drug of choice. At first glance it seemed ridiculous but as time went by learning the thought patterns sobriety seemed possible. It is called the Health Realization approach to sobriety. Not only did it help me become sober it changed the way I look at everyday "ordinary time."

Poetry is often difficult for people to understand. The main reason is, I feel, that we do not want to take the time necessary in order to unpack the poem. Whether it is because of the go-go world we live in, or the screen watching we are apparent slaves to; we are losing touch with our everyday, our mundane, our ordinary time. It takes great artists like Marie Howe to point that out to us, refocusing our everyday, and allowing us to "stop and smell the roses."

I listened to the On Being podcast of The Poetry of Ordinary Time by Marie Howe. It was by far the best On Being podcast that I’ve listened to during this semester. She comes from a large catholic family and mentions that they have issues just like most any other family. She writes poetry to talk about how she sees the world and how her family fits into the world. I seemed to be able to relate to her stories. One story was about her brother who passed away. She said she used poetry to deal with how she felt. My twin sister passed away ten years ago. Last semester I had taken a creative writing class. The first weeks of the class were about writing poetry. It was one of the best classes I’ve taken. I learned that I could be good at poetry. The words didn’t have to rhyme. I didn’t have to use a million metaphors and descriptions. I just had to write. It was at that time that I was able to put down on paper some of my feelings that I couldn’t express out loud. My feelings were deep, deeper than I ever thought possible. And writing poetry was so therapeutic. Listening to this podcast reminded me how poetry can be so liberating and free. Poetry can be whatever you want it to be. It doesn’t have to be deep in meaning. It can just be a statement. I am not one to write long detailed paragraphs explaining something three different ways so that everyone can understand it or so that I fill a whole page up. Poetry seems to fit my writing style. She also talked about she has her students write about things that they see each day. They can’t use descriptions or comparison. It reminded me of mindfulness and how essential being mindful is in today’s world. We seem to get so wrapped up in everything these days that we don’t take the time to “just see”. I am glad I listened to this podcast. It is one that I will listen to over and over again.

In my work I frequently deal with those who have been impacted by sudden death. Last week, sitting in my office, I suggested to a beautiful, young woman that she search on line for one of my favorite poems, "What the Living Do". She had lost her brother. Later she thanked me. Then, yesterday morning at 6:00 a.m., there was Marie Howe in our bedroom reading to us. Thank you. I will soon listen again.

Thank you for this wonderful piece. She says that poetry cannot be paraphrased of translated. Despite all said to the contrary, she is correct.

I was hurrying, but I listened.
Then I cried.
Then I smiled.

This was a fantastic conversation with so much to take away. I felt like it was a discussion occurring at my kitchen table. Thank you so much.

this was a very good show. I like poetry& especially earthy spiritual expression.

Marie Howe's interview with Krista Tippet got me to think about the relationship we have with language. How do we have trouble with describing the seemingly mundane when in fact that it is the mundane that is our lives. The stories that Howe tells of her students, not being able to describe what they see everyday is typical of my generation, I think. We are always told to, "stop and smell the roses," and yet rarely do or know how to. I think what Howe is trying to illustrate is that the only way to deal with humanity is through art. It alone has the feelings and imagery to describe an existence that is living and dying, simultaneously.

Ordinary time seems to be the everyday. This everyday is powerful if we live in the now or live in the moment. Howe showed the power Alcohol can have on a family of origin. It can create havoc, as she states. When I was getting sober I went to a new age treatment center, devoted to the idea that if you lived constantly in the moment, you would not have to seek your drug of choice. At first glance it seemed ridiculous but as time went by learning the thought patterns sobriety seemed possible. It is called the Health Realization approach to sobriety. Not only did it help me become sober it changed the way I look at everyday "ordinary time."

Poetry is often difficult for people to understand. The main reason is, I feel, that we do not want to take the time necessary in order to unpack the poem. Whether it is because of the go-go world we live in, or the screen watching we are apparent slaves to; we are losing touch with our everyday, our mundane, our ordinary time. It takes great artists like Marie Howe to point that out to us, refocusing our everyday, and allowing us to "stop and smell the roses."

This episode, like so many On Being episodes, broke my heart and senses wide open. It was really a gift... I find myself unable to stop thinking about the exercise: write down 10 observations of every day life, no interpretations or metaphor. And not being able to? I have a 3 year old and a 1 year old and this is the kind of example of "life in the now and future" that keeps me awake at night. And am I setting a good example? No. But this show has subtly, richly, lovingly and exquisitely drawn me back into the abyss of life, love and art. Thank you Krista. The dialogue was- as usual but even more so- pure poetry.

Ordinary time seems to be the most difficult aspect of our lives to describe. And although it is difficult to describe it is what comprises our life. Marie Howe seems to be looking for ways to describe the world through her poetry and through her journey I learn about my mundane ordinary time.

“Our heart is restless until it rests in You.” Saint Augustine of Hippo Early Church Father and Doctor of the Church

Reading an article about the birth of Jesus really had me thinking, as i have never paid much attention about it. There are so many questions surrounding the birth of Jesus, starting from how he was conceived. We see that Jesus's mother Mary conceived in a way that most people won't understand, i.e. not the normal way that most of us would expect, and that is way far beyond our understanding. But at the end of it , this was all God's work and we know that He usually does His things in a way that we can't understand most of the time.

When you look at the Birth of Jesus, it signified the Beginning of salvation, it signified improved relationship between God and his people, it signified salvation of God's people, and most importantly it was the bridge that we human kind needed to make it to God. God Himself makes it clear that whoever wanna see Him has to go through Jesus, and that we should listen to him. If you read Ephesians 2:18, it says that, "For through him we both have access by one spirit unto the father." Jesus was born to an ordinary couple, Mary and Joseph the carpenter so that people cannot be afraid of him, but be able to freely communicate with him.

As Jesus being born to Mary as a virgin, it doesn't surprise me at all. because God wanted his one and only son to be brougth into this world by a pure woman, He has good reasons why He wanted it that way. Personally that wouldn't bother me at all as what is important is looking at the big picture and that is Jesus coming into this world and his work; teaching, healing, and forgiving sin and unltimately his death. In general the birth of Jesus was the best thing that ever happened to mankind, as without it we wouldn't be here.

This On Being was by far my favorite thus far. Krista Tippet interviews Marie Howe in one of the most intriguing hours on On being in my opinion.

Marie Howe takes us through her upbringing as a member of a fairly large catholic family. She describes the feeling of how different life is now compared to when she was growing up. She used to live in a huge house with no privacy and lots of siblings where now she lives in a little apartment with her daughter she adopted. She never imagined herself as a poet until after her father died she needed to find a way to cope and "learn something" Marie completely amazes me when she reads her poems, especially the one of her brother, it really makes you realize the Here and now. She also talks about how poems and poetry are counterspells for everyday life.

This interview was amazing in so many ways because it really does get you to think about how we need to take time and find happiness. With technology and always being connected to TV and phones. We need to take a time to find our happiness. I really like the story This On Being was by far my favorite thus far. Krista Tippet interviews Marie Howe in one of the most intrieging hours on On being in my opinion.

Marie Howe takes us through her unbringing as a member of a fairly large catholic family. She describes the feeling of how different life is now compared to when she was growing up. She used to live in a huge house with no privacy and lots of siblings where now she lives in a little apartment with her daughter she adopted. She never imagined herself as a poet until after her father died she needed to find a way to cope and "learn something" Marie completely amazes me when she reads her poems, especially the one of her brother, it really makes you realize the Here and now. She also talks about how poems and poetry are counter spells for everyday life.

This interview was amazing in so many ways because it really does get you to think about how we need to take time and find happiness. With technology and always being connected to TV and phones. We need to take a time to find our happiness. I really like the story about in new york she saw all of these arrows in chalk saying "Happiness this way!" then one day there was a circle that said "happiness here" and people were lining up to stand in it for a moment. That right there is the thing that we have to do. We have to find our happiness and enjoy it. about in new york she saw all of these arrows in chalk saying "Happiness this way!" then one day there was a circle that said "happiness here" and people were lining up to stand in it for a moment. That right there is the thing that we have to do. We have to find our happiness and enjoy it.

I have been so inspired by the ideas, compassion and bearuty of 'being together', sharing the ordinary experiences with such simplicity and reverence, it has renewed my sometimes irritable self with others.
I was looking for the book The Totality of Dreams mentioned in the interview, is this the correct tital? I would love to read it.
thank you

I sink into the lushness of your being, you two, being the beauty of relationship there on the long time in the studio. I love each drop and if i had it all I would have loved hearing you pick up your bags and the foot steps walking out the door.

Another way of "staring at that little rectangle of light: is we are not alone, there is another, and another, and another sharing our story as they share theirs. It is doing what is happening.. we merging into the fluidity of the all. No longer with "identity" just beings in the merge, the soup pot of the world, of all of us communicating, sharing like wild winds, wild wings beating their in the little rectange of light.

I hope Marie writes her play, OMG she was born into a play to be written. And I hope Krista you are able to write the imperfect book, number one of others.

My experience of writing prose poetry, is to write 2 minutes, 20 minutes, just a little jewel or until the flow gets to a grind, then wash the dishes, makes some calls, I always come back to freshness to write a little more. Back and forth, works well for me.. that way I get things done, on the paper and in the kitchen of my life. It is the woman's way not to sit in cloistured from our life, nose to the keys trying to beat out so many pages in so many hours.

A fantastic show and I am so indebted to you, Krista, for introducing me to Marie Howe. I thought you'd be interested to know that when I went into my local bookstore (the wonderful Three Lives in Manhattan) and purchased Howe's "What the Living Do" and inquired about another one of her books, the bookseller said to me "What is going on with Marie Howe? There's been a run on her books?" I explained about the show and she said that in the past (barely) week she'd sold three of her books (which in poetry is definitely a "run"!).

Just wanted to let you know how much reach you have...Thank you for an always-inspiring, meaningful show.

Krista and Marie,
The following sentences from your interview caused my jaw to drop.

"Well language is almost all we have left of action in the modern world. I mean unless we're in Syria, you know, or we're in Iraq. But for many of us, action has become what we say. The moral life is lived out in what we say more often than what we do."

Are you saying that there is no action left in the world, no meaningful action, that words have replaced actions and that the moral life is carried on through our words rather than our actions?

I guess I'm feeling both curious and a little terrified, though perhaps I misunderstand what you were trying to say.
Robert

This was one of my favorite shows, and that's saying a lot. When Krista asked why we find it so difficult to be with things as they are and Marie replied "...it's because they hurt," the truth of that sank deeply into me. I've wanted to offer something to your show for a long time, and today I wrote the following poem which feels related to the resonances of Marie's words. I hope you enjoy.

We feel the threads of love,
and they pull us,
and sometimes we become so entangled
as to lose the feel
of whatever we're weaving alltogether.

But there is promise in their tension,
promise in the sensation of resistance we feel
between life as-it-is
and the murmured hummings
our love-threads tremble into our skin
as they wrap around our body.

That tension is potentiality,
transmuted into kinetic becoming
everytime we take a step
in love's direction.

As we dance with our threads -
as their hum is ignored or invited,
their insistence rejected or responded to -
let us become conscious of our choosings and trust,
if we have chosen love,
in the time it takes
for tension to play itself out.

Perhaps we don't move at all
but simply grow into master-weavers,
incorporating love's every suggestion
into a new component of our cardigan,
turtleneck, leg warmer, or nana blanket...
for these movements of the heart,
as grand as we may try to make them sound,
are everyday ordinary
and require no dramatic upheaval of self.

Unless they do.

As always
it's 'yes-and,'
and it's about
what's happening right now.

Right now,
faith is happening.
Right now I choose to believe
that through dawning self-acceptance
and patient application of truth,
what lives within me
will find expression
in our shared reality.

Right now
there is a stillness of perception
which has invited the otherwise fleeting moments
of a work-seeking Wednesday
to fully arrive and meet me here
and the majesty of simple, inconsequential things
quite takes my breath away.

Right now,
it cannot be otherwise
and any moment,
allowed deeply enough,
must throb with the same selfless love of this moment,
which brings tears to my eyes,
and silence to my pen.

Voices on the Radio

is the State Poet of New York and teaches writing at Sarah Lawrence College. She’s published three collections of poetry: What the Living Do, The Good Thief, and The Kingdom of Ordinary Time.