He says: “We have separate offices and don’t bother each other. We’re very conscious of each other’s writing time and the need for time to write and think creatively.”
She says: “If one of us gets up and says, ‘I have something to work on,’ the other is understanding of sometimes needing to be in a room by themselves, and to have peace and quiet while working on their own things.”
This isn’t the “Newlywed Game,” so there’s no dishwasher or monetary prize to be won, but Bob Eubanks would be thrilled that Dr. Michael Howarth and Dr. Joey Brown’s answers (to a question asked separately) match up.
Not exactly newlyweds, the members of the English and Philosophy Department faculty notched their seventh anniversary earlier this month – but it wasn’t the only thing worth celebrating. Within a short span of time, Howarth published his second novel – “A Still and Awful Red” – while Brown published her second collection of poetry, entitled “The Feral Love Poems.”
Howarth’s novel (his fourth published book) is set in 1609, told from the point of view of a young seamstress who goes to work in the castle of Hungarian Countess Elizabeth Bathory and quickly senses something is amiss.
“Bathory is considered one of the world’s most prolific serial killers,” he says. “She murdered peasant girls because she thought that young blood made her skin look youthful.
“The themes in that – in terms of power and fear of death – intrigued me … it’s a Gothic and historical novel and also a thriller.”
“A Still and Awful Red” had been in the works for several years, but was finally set for release for April 23 through JournalStone Publishing. Copies ordered through the publisher have already started to appear in mailboxes.
“Publication is a lengthy process,” he says. “But it’s very satisfying when you can hold the book in your hand.”
Brown’s collection, “The Feral Love Poems,” is her second, following 2010’s “Oklahomagraphy.”
“The poems fall into one of three categories,” she says. “Quite a few of them are what I would call ‘portrait poems.’ They work like snapshots taken with a camera, capturing a picture of people at one given moment.
“There’s another group of them that are what I most often do … write about a place or landscape. In this book it’s Oklahoma, Texas, Missouri, Kansas – any place I was in a car in the last five years.”
But the biggest group of poems are the ones Brown says fall loosely into the theme inspired by the title.
“(Howarth) gave me the title … there were things I noticed about how people often have difficulty expressing themselves. Those expressions sometimes are seen not as what they are at first, like homemade signs on a fence, a tattoo or graffiti. These I turned into a short story but formatted as a poem.”
Delayed last year due to COVID, her collection is set for publication this month through Hungry Buzzard Press.
Having been together for 13 years and married for seven, the couple say they’re fully supportive of one another’s writing efforts.
“I read his drafts and give him feedback,” says Brown. “Every once in a while, I’ll ask him to read my drafts. Poetry is meant to be heard out loud, and having an audience listen and react is part of the process. If the audience is only one person and it’s the one person I see literally every day, I feel like that isn’t what I’m looking for.”
“We keep separate offices and don’t bother each other when we’re writing,” Howarth says. “We’re very respectful of the fact we each need our own time to think creatively.”
To learn more about the faculty, degrees and activities in the English and Philosophy Department, click here.