In Profile: Sarah Howe – Loop Of Jade
Last night I read ‘Loop of Jade’ for the third time in preparation (and enjoyment) for today’s poet/writer introduction to this website that I intend doing over the next year as discussed here.
It is only recently that I came to the poetry of Sarah Howe after reading an interview in the Sunday Times, that made me search the net for her work and in what I found, opened a door to wonderful and well-crafted writing.
When I read ‘Frenzied’ on her website and ‘To all laments and purposes’ over on Poetry London I was instantly hooked and knew she was the type of writer I was drawn to.
Who is Sarah Howe?
Sarah Howe hails from England but was born in Hong Kong in 1983 and lived there until she was 7. She is an academic, editor and poet. In 2015 she won the T.S. Eliot Prize (one of the most prestigious) and The Sunday Times / PFD Young Writer of the Year Award, and was shortlisted for the Forward Prize for Best First Collection with ‘Loop of Jade’ which is an outstanding achievement.
At sixteen, she was chosen as one of the winners in the Foyle Young Poets Award and say’s she began writing poems in earnest during a year she spent living in America, on a scholarship to Harvard shortly after her undergraduate degree., and within the span of a decade, created her award winning book.
The Book ‘Loop Of Jade’
I love the story behind the title of the book that is also a poem within the collection of 37 poems, where Howe tells that when she was born, the woman who took in her abandoned orphaned mother, brought a Jade bracelet the size of a babies wrist across to temple for it to be blessed and her future to be told. And the idea is that the loop of green stone around her wrist would shatter instead of her, if she would ever fall.
These sentiments and images, crafted with precision are intelligently set in place through out the collection. Howe celebrates and explores her Chineseness with lip smacking beauty as well as introducing us to her dual cultural ancestry since her father is English and mother Chinese.
Howe explores injustice while searching for a place of identity and heritage. She brings us also into her own world of traveling and the first lines of ‘Crossing from Guangdong’ breathtakingly begin Something sets us looking for a place./For many minutes every day we lose/ourselves to somewhere else. Even without/knowing, we are between the enveloping sheets/of a childhood bed, or crossing/that bright, willow-bounded weir at dusk. So beautiful I’ve read it near6-7 times.
The thing I most like about the book is that every poem is a different type of form, cleverly constructed to the highest of standard. This format makes the reading very enjoyable, always something different on each turn of the page that I believe will make readers easily re-read this collection.
The beauty and richness, the sound and the rhythm, the powerful images and delicious visions of landscape and humanity, make this book a must read and for me, a great start to my reading year.
Where to Find Sarah Howe
Some poems online
Her website to check out too Sarah Howe Poetry