New Collection by Celebrated Utah Poet
Salt is a new collection of poetry with a pinch of local flavor.
Salt Lake City – Susan Elizabeth Howe’s extraordinary collection of poems, Salt, draws inspiration from an element so common in the Great Basin we almost forget it’s there. We float in it, we race across it, and when the wind blows the wrong way, we can even smell it.
Howe, an Associate Professor at Brigham Young University finds salt in everyday locations—the white veins that cut through red sandstone, animal lures set out for deer at sunset, and in the sweat she licks from the base of her husband’s neck. To Howe’s fans, this collection will seem like normal fare. They expect pages that sizzle a bit, such as the description of when one woman drives through town and sees a 1965 Thunderbird, then angles over to take a look. “Not of the car,” she confesses, but “the owner—Jake of Jake’s Autos.” Or when she muses about a chorus line of poppies dressed in flimsy skirts over black and green underthings. Howe’s creative eye sees bands of ancient beings holding hands along Canyonland walls. She also quotes from ads for stallion stud services compiled from the Horseshoe Trader, which offers unexpected poetry in its references to “Belles Femmes” and “special considerations for multiple mares.”
Recognized as one of the most important local poets, Howe was invited in 2011 to write the foreword to the anthology Fire in the Pasture: Twenty-first Century Mormon Poets, a compilation of some eighty word artists. Her poetry has been performed with accompaniment by the Utah Symphony and she is a librettist for the opera, The Long Walk Home, by English composer Harriet Petherick Bushman.
In an environment where most copies of poetry books are soon relegated to bookstore discount tables, Howe’s first volume of poems, Stone Spirits, had exceptional sales. “We distributed Susan’s earlier award-winning collection,” says Tom Kimball, marketing director for Signature Books, “and I have to admit that I was impressed as I watched box after box of her book go out the door through to the last copy, and people still ask for it.”
Salt can be found in local Utah bookstores and from Amazon.com. It has 126 pages and sells for $19.95. Peter Makuck of Tar River Poetry calls it an especially “memorable” collection that “reminds us of our humanity, provides us with solace for hard news, and makes us occasionally rock with laughter as well. This is a most rewarding book, every poem a keeper.”