The phrase “without saying”
usually indicates something that needn’t be said
because it is assumed true. However in Without Saying
Richard Howard creates characters who speak of
subjects that often go unsaid because their truth is
unspeakable according to rules of politesse. These poems
artfully question accepted, canonical versions of history
or myth, subverting the expected dénouements
of narratives we may think we know. Without Saying
brilliantly illustrates that there are no easy
truths, only new visions and investigations.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Richard Howard was born in
Cleveland, Ohio, in 1929. He received his BA from Columbia
University in 1951 and studied at the Sorbonne as a
Fellow of the French Government. He is the author of
sixteen volumes of poetry including Inner Voices:
Selected Poems (2004) published by Farrar Straus
& Giroux and Untitled Subjects (1969) for
which he received the Pulitzer Prize. He has published
more than 150 translations from the French including
works by Gide, Giraudoux, Camus, De Beauvoir, De Gaulle,
Stendhal, and Baudelaire's Les Fleurs du mal
for which he received the 1983 National Book Award for
translation. He is the author of Alone with America:
Essays on the Art of Poetry in the United States
since 1950, which was first published in 1969 and expanded
in 1980. In 1994 he edited the Library of America edition
of the Travel Writings of Henry James, and
in 1995 The Best American Poetry. His honors
include The Levinson Prize, the Harriet Monroe Memorial
Prize, the National Institute of Arts and Letters Literary
Award, the Ordre National du Merite from the French
government and the PEN Translation Medal as well as
fellowships from The Academy of American Poets, the
Guggenheim Foundation, and the MacArthur Foundation.
Howard formerly held teaching positions at the Whitney
Humanities Center at Yale, where he was the Luce Visiting
Scholar in 1983, and at the University of Houston. For
12 years he was Poetry Editor of The Paris Review
and continues to be Poetry Editor at Western Humanities
Review. Howard lives in New York City where he
teaches in the Writing Division of the School of the
Arts, Columbia University.
ABOUT THE BOOK(from
In Richard Howard's new collection,
voices of myth and memory prevail, if only by means
of prevarication: the voice of Medea's mother trying
to explain her daughter's odd behavior to an indiscreet
interviewer; or first and last the voice of Henry James,
late in life, faced with the disputed prospect of meeting
L. Frank Baum and then, later on, "managing"
not only Maeterlinck's Blue Bird but his own unruly
cast of characters, including Mrs. Wharton and young
Richard Howard's honors include
the Pulitzer Prize, the PEN Medal for Translation, and
grants from the Guggenheim and MacArthur foundations.
Why don't you set your wicked little machine
on the table. That's not a question, it's how
queens give commands: Why don't you ... No, over
—so that what you mislead me into saying
can be absorbed by your ... instrument without
my having to put Daisy down—how nasty that sounds. Do set the thing there. So helpful!
You see whatever her Mama does—even
giving an interview—Daisy wants to be
part of the action, don't you, darling?
She likes helping Mama. So intelligent!
Now let's make sure we've brought all the things we
I know that's your job and I'm not
you're incompetent. But just last week I was
about to respond to your ... predecessor
when he made me stop and inquired if I had—
"if I happened to have," I believe
"an extra tape around the palace ... "
a tape? I told him that I never "happened"
to have anything and that queens have nothing
"extra" anywhere. What could he do but leave?
We must never forget that none of us is
infallible—not even the youngest. Now
suppose you start your contraption, just to
If something goes wrong this time, we could
always send out for tapes, whatever they
that poor boy seemed to think everyone had some,
didn't he? Now I'll just say a few words. [Now
I'll just say a few words.] Wonderful! Let's begin
Daisy, please stop that! She doesn't like machines,
and to be honest with you, neither do I ...
I side with Daisy—with all dogs, actually,
provided they're small enough to hold on my lap;
you know what I mean, there's a kind of profane
immortality to be achieved by moving
down the scale of such creatures—if that's down
(There, she'll be quiet now: no more protesting.)
Of course you're right, it is useful: recording
what's been spoken makes for a sort of judgment
on speech, anyone's speech. As we're reminded
each time the police are obliged to warn us: Whatever you say may be used in evidence
against you. Has that ever happened to you?
*Interviewer has deleted his questions so that Queen
Ediya's remarks, on the
thirtieth anniversary of the Princess Medea's departure
from Colchis, might
be more readily comprehended by readers unfamiliar,
so long afterward,
with the incidents involved.