The Bigness of Small Poems – #29 in a Series – Marie Howe’s Divine Spark

American poet Marie Howe

American poet Marie Howe


Was I ever virgin?

Did someone touch me before I could speak?

Who had me before I knew I was an I?

So that I wanted that touch again and again

without knowing who or why or whence it came?

Marie Howe from Magdelene, W.W. Norton & Company, 2017

In her astonishing fourth full-length poetry collection American poet Marie Howe addresses two of her central concerns: her recovery journey from addiction and her deep-rooted spiritual roots that come to full-flower in her expression of her faith through the images of the Christian story.

I have been using Howe’s poetry in my recovery work for many years and especially some of the poems from this collection that first appeared in American Poetry Review. But I have also used some of her devotional poems in my Poetry as prayer workshops as well. In particular At the Star Market and Annunciation.

The big small poem I highlight here touches so sharply on the sense of a divine spark buried inside the human. A spark and a longing that humans have been singing and writing about for thousands of years! I am grateful for the full-throated humanity of Howe which I have witnessed not only in her poetry but through her occasional poetry retreats.


  1. Posted April 14, 2017 at 9:20 am | Permalink

    Thanks for this posting, Richard. Loved the poem. The longing, the longing. So beautifully expressed.

  2. Richard Osler
    Posted April 24, 2017 at 10:47 pm | Permalink

    Thanks Donnie.What a life force longing can be!

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