No. 18: W. Scott Howard

No. 18: W. Scott Howard


ISSN: 2470-­4709 / Paperback / 5.5 x 8.5 / 42pp

SPINNAKERS (preview | introduction) is a cryptographic masterwork that explores the way language moves in and beyond us. Each poem is a two-page assemblage consisting of prose poem, lyrical erasure, and Morse translations. They are anagrammatological protests and prayers from suburban apocalyptic midnight potlucks, amplifying the spatial and temporal dynamics between wind/sail and sound/speak, transmitting tragic joy within and against headlong crisis culture. SPINNAKERS is of profound import for all who wonder what poets today are called to do.

"Howard masters a compound poetic of subtraction and conversion in this masterly and compact nautical text. Echoes of Mallarmé’s Un Coup de Dés and the lingering persistence of Oppen’s “shipwreck / Of the singular” combine with a restless wake behind this text-ship blown from code to code. The three points of the spinnaker are there alright: a tight text which registers as a compressed abbreviation, a distilled fragmentation, and the non-semantic jump into Morse."

Steve McCaffery

"For H.D., art works if transmitted through “the secret of dots and dashes” but only to receivers who were receptive. W. Scott Howard sounds our own time through telegraphic broadcasts and their Morse translations as prose poems and their erasures spin centrifugally. The titles themselves tell much of the story, from “Mere Bog” to “Surplus Ephemera,” from “Relic Wink” to “Glitch Blebs.” If “kinetic swirl eclipses pronouns for subjectivity,” then erased, we must pause on “lips.” If “lyric politics twilight swift divinations,” then we are returned to “swift     nation.” These are deft soundings of an apocalyptic time in which “stammering utter notes” are “dash     open.” Take your time with them, let them sink in, tune in to their accompanying sonictexts, and you will find yourself brought into an elsewhere unsounded hitherto that tells of home."

Jeanne Heuving

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W. Scott Howard

teaches poetics and poetry in the Department of English at the University of Denver. He received his Ph.D. in English and Critical Theory from the University of Washington, Seattle, where he was a member of the Subtext Collective. Scott worked at Powell’s Books (1990-93) where he co-managed (with Vanessa Renwick) the Small Press & Journals section, the dewclaw reading series, the prism interdisciplinary discussion series, and also managed the Critical Theory section. His work has received support from the Modern Language Association, the Pew Charitable Trusts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Beinecke Library, Yale University. Scott lives in Englewood, CO and commutes year-round by bicycle, following what crow dost.

W. Scott Howard reminds us that all language is a form of code, that each code is a container, and that small containers hold complex notions, double meanings, and illegible nothingness all at the same time.
— Ryan Wade Ruehlen, Introduction
If the postmodern reader should find this journey a chilly one with the wind howling at the sheets, I have on good authority that there is a personal note: the International Morse is a gesture of love & remembrance for Howard’s father, who was a Navy pilot during WW2. For the poet, Spinnakers takes him back to his place and early years of origin (New England / the Atlantic), to his formative decades along the Pacific coast, to his current middle-years in the middle of the US, and beyond. The book is an invocation to sailing lines upon our troubled waters—no small craft.
— Rich Murphy, Word for/Word