Ann Howells was born and raised on the shores of the beautiful Chesapeake Bay which informs much of her poetry. She moved to Texas in 1979. Ann is both a poet and a visual artist. She edited Illya’s Honey, a poetry jpirnal, beginning in 1999. The journal was published at first in print. The final three years appeared online, and she alternated issues with her co-editor Melanie Pruit-Helsem (www.IllyasHoney.com). Ann’s books include: Under a Lone Star (Village Books Press, 2016) illustrated by Dallas artist J. Darrell Kirkley; Cattlemen & Cadillacs, an anthology of D/FW poets which she edited (Dallas Poets Community Press, 2016); So Long As We Speak Their Names, poems about watermen who harvest Chesapeake Bay (Kelsay Books, 2019); and Painting the Pinwheel Sky, persona poems in the voices of Van Gogh and his contemporaries (Assure Press, 2020). Her four chapbooks include: Black Crow in Flight, published as Editor’s Choice, 2007 Main Street Rag Chapbook Competition, and Softly Beating Wings, 2017 William D. Barney Memorial Chapbook Contest winner (Blackbead Books, 2017). Named a "Distinguished Poet of Dallas" by the Dallas Public Library in 2001, she served as President of Dallas Poets Community (501-c-3 non-profit) for four years and as Treasurer for many more. Her poems appear widely in small press and university journals including Spillway, THEMA, and San Pedro River Review in this country, Magma (England) and Crannog (Ireland). Ann has received eight Pushcart nominations. She resides just outside Dallas in Carrollton, Texas USA with her husband, daughter, and the two most recent in a long line of rescue dogs.
Dallas poet and editor Ann Howells left rural Maryland’s shore long ago, but that region of mists and dangerous work on the water never left her. In So Long As We Speak Their Names, she beautifully, evocatively recreates the world she grew up with and in. She brings us not just that marshy land where land meets sea, but even more so, the watermen who risk their lives hauling their livings from the sea, and of course their children and wives, who wait, pray, and hope the sea won’t take their men forever. It’s a hard life, a dangerous life, but as one character states, “I’m cast iron.” The lives portrayed here should never be forgotten. We should indeed speak their names, but even more, read their stories, over and over.
Robert Cooperman, Author of In the Colorado Gold Fever Mountains, winner of the Colorado Book Award for Poetry
Take a water globe that includes the coves of Whidbey Island, and the weather, and weathered people of “The Shipping News”, place it gently, with calloused hands, into the area of the Chesapeake Bay, and you have So Long As We Speak Their Names, a glorious collection by Ann Howells. Where names are old-fashioned but work ethic isn’t, this is set in the time of our parents and their parents, where each cruel winter brings new widows, and everyone has just a drop of "that damned Twilley blood!”
I loved this collection. The watermen and their women—Ann taught me all about them. I want to eat wild asparagus, stain my lips purple with berries, learn how to can for the winter. This is not a book I’ll read and put away, I’ll keep it close-at-hand forever. And I bet you will too.
. . . He's not spent so many days in company of women since he was a child, but arthritis gnaws his joints, back stiff
as old rope -- still he gazes seaward. A rime of spindrift edges pers, crab shacks, rip-rap, like old dogs greying
at the muzzle. even the snow plough
has slipped; men in bulky jackets, knit caps
and gloves, wrestle it
from the ditch. Grey is the color of the day. His wife, fingers blue from hanging laundry, tosses a teabag in her constant cup,
pours water from the simmering kettle, clasps the cup in two hands. Tea, he scoffs, adds another measure of Old Crow
to his coffee. Impatience plucks his sleeve. He's useless as gills on a cat, he thinks. Gills. On a damn housecat.