a villa full of idols.
In “A Progressive Education” (2014), his last published collection, Mr. Howard imagined, in verse form, letters written jointly by a class of sixth-graders in Sandusky, Ohio, circa 1950. Disturbed by a science experiment on mice, students write in “A Proposed Curriculum Change”:
Is all science a history of death?
Maybe in seventh grade we will learn that there is no fate
is worse than death, isn’t it?
Life will be… our destiny.
His other collections of poetry included “Lining Up” (1984), “Trappings” (1999), “Fallacies of Wonder” (2003) and “The Silent Treatment” (2005). A second part of the critique, “Paper Trail: Selected Prose 1965-2003”, was published in 2004.
Mr. Howard, New York State Poet Laureate from 1993 to 1995, was at various times the poetry editor of The Paris Review and Western Humanities Review. After teaching English for 10 years at the University of Houston, he became a professor of writing at Columbia in 1997.
He lived in Greenwich Village. He and Mr Alexander had been together for many years when they got married in 2012. He leaves no other survivors.
Mr. Howard explained his appeal to the dramatic monologue, especially as performed by Robert Browning, before an audience at the PEN America Center in 2005.
“The secret that Robert Browning shared was that when you speak with someone else’s voice, the speaker, thus recorded, is revealing something without realizing that he or she is revealing it,” he said. “There is something that is not recognized in the speech, in the discourse, that escapes while the speaker is oblivious. And it was that – the drama of the speaker revealing more than was known or suspected – that was very appealing. I was a very sneaky little boy, and it was a way of getting what I wanted.”