What the Living Do

By Marie Howe,

Book cover of What the Living Do: Poems

Book description

Informed by the death of a beloved brother, here are the stories of childhood, its thicket of sex and sorrow and joy, boys and girls growing into men and women, stories of a brother who in his dying could teach how to be most alive. What the Living Do reflects…

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Why read it?

1 author picked What the Living Do as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

I’ve probably read this amazing book more than any other book of poems. It is Howe’s elegy to her brother John, who died of an AIDS-related illness in 1989. I love how the book reads almost like a novel in verse, returning to her brother time and again. Howe’s poems bring together the physical and spiritual in transcendent ways. It was one the of first books I reread after I lost my mother during the pandemic—a companion during my grief. The famous title poem explores the everydayness of life even after loss—clogged kitchen sinks, groceries, parking the car, all that…

From Nicholas' list on grief: literary companions after loss.

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