Simon Howard 1960-2013

I just heard, a month after the fact, that the poet Simon Howard died in December last year. Unlike recently departed poets whom I knew, even if briefly, like James Harvey and Anselm Hollo, I cannot say of Simon that we ever met, or even came into close contact. We did correspond, as I tend to try to do with anyone whose writing seems to maintain the erudition and innovation that Simon's did, and our writing itself crossed over more than a few times, sharing space on the lists of presses and zines that often define the community of British vanguard poetry in the 21st century. 

What bonded me closest to Simon was his engagement with music, classical music you'd say (if you knew little about it, as I do) and the fact that his incredible expertise in that field had brought him close to many contemporary British composers and musicologists, and had led his poetry being brought to music by Philip Venables, before Philip and I worked together extensively for the London Sinfonietta's blue touch paper project. Simon's work, and his expertise, and his genuine brilliance in this ever challenging collaborative realm, was always on my shoulder somewhat, as a spur, or an inspiration. 

Simon was very close to others I'm proud to call my friends, Mark Cobley, Richard Barrett amongst them, but to me, his presence was defined by his poetry and not his corporeality. In a time where mystery is an almost impossibility, when writing is often defined first by its psychology, its explanation, in the form of the human who has produced it, Simon was absent, defined wholly by his poetry and the vacuum of all else. Naturally this led me to respect that decision, to wonder, but also, frankly, to overlook his work at times. Reconsulting his output over the last week, I have come to rue that decision. Such is the speed of life. 

His books from Oystercatcher The Red Ceilings and the remarkable Numbers from and you can find much of his work on his brilliant blog, the last poem he published, just two months ago, sits, waiting for you to read it. 

I know nothing of the details of his life or his death, only of his work and his interests. I will do my best to keep it this way, sad to have lost a voice like his. We actually wrote together once, for his brilliant Plus-que-parfait project, put together by him and Emily Howard and Mark Cobley. Here is Linguistically Fluent in Targoviste, a deluge that will now stand as a personal testament, for what my memories of him through his poetry, are worth


... linguistically fluent in Targoviste

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