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KEITH HOWDEN

Paperback 6" x 9" 99  pages  ISBN 978-1-326-14042-7

Keith Howden was born near Burnley in 1932. He is married, with three children. After National Service and work as a laboratory assistant, he taught English and modern European fiction with a major interest in 'the text as event' at Nottingham Trent University. Among his many poetry pamphlets are Joe Anderson, Daft Jack's Ideal Republics, Pauper Grave, Hanging Alice Nutter and Barlow Agonistes. He has published three full-length collections, Marches of Familiar Landscape (Peterloo 1978), Onkonkay (Peterloo (1984) and Jolly Roger (Smokestack 2012). Recently, with his son, the composer Matthew Howden, he has completed two poetry music collaborations, with accompanying discs: The Matter of Britain (PRE Rome 2009) and Barley Top (Redroom 2013).

This is the ‘strewn and bitter’ landscape of the Pennine margins. It haunts the poet’s imagination, the covert agonies of a small, remembered world where the encompassing moors narrow not only physical horizons.The result is less kaleidoscopic than holographic: a disembodied, three dimensional image is projected, as indubitable as it is implausible. The product is a controlled explosion which threatens to break up the smooth and banal surface of diurnal appearance and lay open its components. It is a disturbing effect’ (Fraser Steele, Poetry Now, Radio3)

These ‘stabbed and broken memories,’ intended as an oracle of ‘the fierce morality of punctured life’ are also a threnody for ‘time not innocent from time not innocent.’ Perhaps such matters cannot any longer be left to scientist, sociologist and cartographer. This book may be read as a powerful novel…such a book comes from a poet whose further work will be looked forward to. (Ann Tibble, Poetry Review.)

It is rare these days to find really long poems and even rarer to find long poems of quality…All the poems make  compulsive reading with images that stick in the memory/. A most impressive book. I’d like to read a lot more like this.  (Jim Mangall, Ambit)

Here is paradox. Keith Howden’s addiction to an agnostic stance comes of no passive or supine despair, but of an impassioned love of his place, the moors ‘flayed by quarrying’ the streets that wear ‘no memory longer than yesterday’s fag’, which prevents him from confining it in easy definitions. Like the landscape he writes of, the diction and form of his verse are deceptively stark and simple…but are sturdy enough to deny nostalgia and demand a concern for the places they portray.  (Shirley Toulson, British Book News.) 

 

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