Richard Howard  

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Richard Howard (1929 – 2022) was an American poet, literary critic, essayist, teacher, and translator, known for translations such as The Fantastic: A Structural Approach to a Literary Genre.



After reading French letters at the Sorbonne in 1952–53, Howard had a brief early career as a lexicographer. He soon turned his attention to poetry and poetic criticism, and won the Pulitzer Prize for poetry for his 1969 collection Untitled Subjects, which took for its subject dramatic imagined letters and monologues of 19th century historical figures. For much of his career, Howard composed poems employing a quantitative verse technique.

A prolific literary critic, Howard's monumental 1969 volume Alone With America stretches to 594 pages and profiles 41 American poets who had published at least two books.

He was awarded the PEN Translation Prize in 1976 for his translation of E. M. Cioran's A Short History of Decay and the National Book Award

In 1982, Howard was named a Chevalier of L'Ordre National du Mérite by the government of France.

In 2016, he received the Philolexian Society Award for Distinguished Literary Achievement.

Personal life

Richard Howard was born to poor Jewish parents. His last name at birth is unknown. He was adopted as an infant by Emma Joseph and Harry Orwitz, a middle-class Cleveland couple, who were also Jewish; his mother changed their last names to "Howard" when he was an infant, after she divorced Orwitz. Howard never met his birth parents, nor his sister, who was adopted by another local family. Howard was gay, a fact that comes up frequently in his later work. He was out to some degree since at least the 1960s, when he remarked to friend W. H. Auden that he was offended by a fellow poet's use of Jewish and gay epithets, "since [he was] both these things", to which Auden replied, "My dear, I never knew you were Jewish!"

Howard kept on his bed in a nook of his New York City apartment a large stuffed gorilla named "Mildred".



  • Quantities (1962)
  • Damages (1967)
  • Untitled Subjects (1969)
  • Findings (1971)
  • Two-Part Inventions (1974)
  • Fellow Feelings (1976)
  • Misgivings (1979)
  • Lining Up (1984)
  • No Traveller (1989)
  • Selected Poems (1991)
  • Like Most Revelations (1994)
  • Trappings (1999)
  • Talking Cures (2002)
  • Fallacies of Wonder (2003)
  • Inner Voices (selected poems), 2004
  • The Silent Treatment (2005)
  • Without Saying (2008)
  • A Progressive Education (2014)

Critical essays

  • Alone With America: Essays on the Art of Poetry in the United States Since 1950 (1969)
  • Preferences: 51 American Poets Choose Poems From Their Own Work and From the Past (1974)
  • Travel Writing of Henry James (essay) (1994)
  • Paper Trail: Selected Prose 1965–2003 (2004)

Major translations (French to English)

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