Books by Frank Howell

SACRED FIRE by Nancy Wood
Released: Sept. 1, 1998

In another collaboration with Howell, Wood (Dancing Moons, 1995, etc.) uses poetry and prose to tell of the Pueblo people of the Southwest, a story at once melancholy and wonderfully dense with cultural landscapes. The hardship suffered by the Pueblos after the Spanish occupation brings a concurrent sense of survivance, and of holding tight to the cosmology, rituals, and pacing of their everyday lives. The story is told by the Old Man, guardian of the Sacred Fire, one of the four great elements and symbolic of longevity, hope, wisdom, and purification. While the Sacred Flame is central to the book, Wood ranges far and wide, into Sun Dances and corn ceremonies, community and tradition. The poems can be incantatory; some are simple explication ("What came with us in the Beginning Time?/Turtle Spirit./What comforted us in the Middle Way?/Buffalo Spirit"), while others are more elusive ("We are afraid to remember obsidian,/because it reminds us of pain"). Salted between poems are pieces through which Old Man fills the gaps, sketches in the memories, locates what abides: spirit, humility, grace, generosity. Howell's artwork is arresting, with an emotional lucidity that conveys powerful people, facing adversity without losing their way. (Poetry. 9-11) Read full book review >
Released: Oct. 1, 1995

The creators of Many Winters (1974) and Spirit Walker (1993) strike a resonant chord that easily overcomes any preachiness in this arresting work of poems and portraits. It may fall into the hands of the picture-book set, but its audience is teenagers (and adults). The meditations that begin each section, based on Pueblo Indian lore, call readers back from the age of computers and call-waiting, but the book becomes more satisfying when Wood ditches New Age babble and lets words dance: A dreaming man is ``an old bear caught/Between the jaws of winter, who remembers only/the sweet, warm promise of honey.'' Best of all are Howell's paintings, stunning in their drama and clarity. Nature, in this elemental world, ceases to be an abstract concept and becomes a simple presence, real as mud or rain, with no distinction between the earth and the people who inhabit it. (index) (Poetry. 14+) Read full book review >
Released: Oct. 1, 1993

A companion to Many Winters (1974), this collection of 40-odd poems (several previously published) and a few prose pieces is also based on the legends, values, and beliefs of the Taos Pueblo Indians and restates many of the same themes: the interconnectedness of the earth and all beings, cycles of death and regeneration, the conflict of material and spiritual values, the strength of women. The poetry has become more ``literary''; the illustrations—without the particularity of the earlier portraits- -show archetypical Native Americans with extravagantly flowing hair afloat on fields of intense color. Both poems and paintings are beautiful in their way, but their mannerism is no match for the concreteness and immediacy of the earlier work. Introductory material about the author and the Taos; title index. (Poetry. 12+) Read full book review >