The first full-length collection from poetry/playwright Tony Howarth, three stylistically and thematically diverse dramas linked by the power of basic human decency to change lives.
Journalist turned educator turned playwright turned poet Tony Howarth is on a mission to restore the grand tradition of verse drama. In his first full-length collection, consisting of three plays, a man helps a girl escape forced marriage and sexual bondage in John Smith’s despotic colonial Virginia; the poet Anna Akhmatova communes with other women waiting outside a Leningrad prison in Stalinist Russia; and in the present day, a man who first lost his father to childhood divorce and distance deals with the anguish of losing him again in adulthood to the ravages of age and dementia. Composed in styles as diverse as their themes, what connects these three dramas is the power of basic human decency to change lives, of a caring hand to hold reaching out across the darkness.
”Tony Howarth’s ability to evoke different eras in different styles is more than just a virtuoso performance. Each verse drama is heart rending, perfectly realized and in language so beautiful it takes the breath away. His 'Fragile souls joining hands in a lonely world,' reach out to us across space and time. Grab hold!”
—John MacLean, author of The Long Way Home
"In language both lyrical and dramatic, reminiscent, in places, of Robert Browning’s monologues, and in other moments of Louis Simpson’s plain-spoken narrative poetry, Tony Howarth dismantles the myths of history and memory, country and family. He transports the reader from seventeenth-century Virginia to Russia in Akhmatova’s time to the tender and agonizing complexities of the present. Always, in these thought-provoking, moving verse dramas, life’s hardships are met with quiet heroism. This is poetry under pressure, in the best sense, forging new forms.”
—Tracy Daugherty, author of Snow and Straw
Poetry. Drama. History. Family & Relationships.
Tony Howarth, editor for dramatic writing with The Westchester Review, is a playwright, director, former journalist, retired in 1991 after twenty-eight years as a high school and college teacher of English and theatre. Drawn to poetry in youth by Wordsworth, he adjusted his ambitions to journalism, in Cleveland; Meriden, Connecticut; the US Army; Lancaster, Pennsylvania; Indianapolis; and New York City, where he was editor of the editorial page of The World-Telegram and Sun. Disillusioned after a printers' strike and the assassination of John F. Kennedy, he turned to teaching, where he was asked to develop a theatre program, which in turn led to a list of professional credits, including a dozen plays and a musical presented off-Broadway. He began writing poetry again in 2009 after a visit to Wordworth's Dove Cottage in England's Lake District. His poetry, developed at the Hudson Valley Writing Center under the treasured guidance of Jennifer Franklin and Fred Marchant, has appeared in many magazines. His verse dramas WILD MAN OF THE MOUNTAIN (2021) and A HAND TO HOLD (2022) were published by Broadstone Books.