What The Living Do By Marie Howe

1203 Words5 Pages
Published in 1997, Marie Howe’s anthology of poems, What the Living Do was written as an elegy to her brother, John, who passed away due to AIDS. Howe’s anthology is written without metaphor to document the loss she felt after her brother’s death. Although What the Living Do is written as an anthology, this collection allows for individual poems to stand alone but also to work together to tell an overarching story. Using the poetic devices of alliteration, enjambment, repetition and couplets, Howe furthers her themes of gender and loss throughout her poems in her anthology. Alliteration is prevalent in most of the poems in What the Living Do. Howe uses alliteration to bring attention to the line of poetry and her word choices are meant to evoke a response from the reader. For example, in the poem, “The Promise,” alliteration is used to further the themes of gender and loss, as the narrator states “Dad was drunk again and dangerous” (Howe 54). The alliteration of “dad,” “drunk,” and “dangerous” bring the reader’s attention to this line and places emphasis on the idea of the narrator and her brother sharing this moment (line 13). Utilizing this emphasis, the narrator is able to highlight the loss of her brother as no one else has those shared memories with the narrator. Through alliteration, the theme of loss is clearly expressed by talking about the brother who has passed and who she has shared memories with. A majority of the poems in Howe’s anthology are written in
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