Jim Harrison’s best-selling poetry book In Search of Small Gods is where birds and humans converse, autobiographies are fluid, and unknown gods flutter just out of sight. In terrains real and imagined—from remote canyons and anonymous thickets in the American West to secret basements in World War II Europe—Harrison calls on readers to live fully.
The moon comes up.
The moon goes down.
This is to inform you
that I didn’t die young.
Age swept past me
but I caught up.
Spring has begun here and each day
brings new birds up from Mexico.
Yesterday I got a call from the outside
world but I said no in thunder.
I was a dog on a short chain
and now there’s no chain.
“Noted novelist Harrison, also a fine poet, writes like a man reconciling the world at large with the natural world he knows well, one that still fascinates and inspires him… A group of prose poems centers this volume. Whether he imagines an Estonian World War II veteran who is fascinated by light or Vallejo in Paris, collecting wine bottles for small change, Harrison is heavily invested in narrative elements that range from the real to the surreal… Highly recommended.” —Library Journal, starred review
“In Search of Small Gods is filled with what is most loved about Harrison’s work… This book stands as an incredible addition to a body of work, relentless in its pursuit of staring down the void… These are lusting and irreverent poems, by turns sad and melancholy, or just as easily joyous in the celebration of the mind free to roam in the consciousness of the natural world. As expected, they penetrate deeply into the soul of one of our finest living poets who is usually at work trying to find the sweetest way to take his leave. This is a book that needs to be read repeatedly, almost as a mantra, as a way of seeing those small gods in our lives who are there at every turn, every curve of a lovely leg, every song that erupts from a vigilant heart.” —Foreword
“In low-pressure free verse, and in the prose poems that make up half the volume, Western American landscapes and beasts soar and roam off the page… Paying homage to instinct, loyalty, memory and a companionable ferocity, Harrison finds his best subjects, often enough, in dogs. ‘I know dog language fairly well,’ he explains, ‘but then dogs hold a little back from us because we don’t know their secret names given them by the dog gods.'” —Publishers Weekly
“Funny and tender beneath a wry and gruff seen-it-all veneer, Harrison contemplates death, discerns divinity in every stone and leaf, and nobility in ordinary lives, and laughs at our attempts to separate ourselves from the rest of nature… Harrison, writing with more force and lucidity than ever, performs a cosmic soft-shoe beneath the shape-shifting moon, then lifts his head and howls to mark the pain and suffering all around us, from the house down the road to the blasted cities of Iraq.” —Booklist
“His poems succeed on the basis of an open heart and a still-ravenous appetite for life. Time and again, Harrison peels the onion to get at some pungent truth.” —Texas Observer
“[Harrison] covers much that has been central to his poetry since the middle 1960s: desperation and its relationship to literary ambition and the literary imagination, the attritions of poetry, the self-invention of standing both inside and outside a tradition, and location. For Harrison, a fundamental activity of poetry is to put the self in its place.” —Antioch Review
“Spending time with his poems is less like a visit with an oracle in the cave high in the mountains and more like an evening with the gruff, garrulous guy in the corner of the bar who turns out to be much smarter than he looks… The most winning quality of Harrison’s work is his quirky exuberant inventiveness, his way of sliding quickly from image to image while inviting readers along… Rarely do I read one of Harrison’s poems without finding a line, or many lines, that I would like to carry with me for a long time.” —Georgia Review
“Like Henry David Thoreau (Harrison) finds solace in nature… Like Thoreau he finds a spiritual connection among all living things… This is a highly readable book that offers a wise look at life.” —MagillOnLiterature Plus
“The great American writer is at it again, his voice as clear, bighearted and caustic as ever. In this fine collection of poems and prose poems, Harrison establishes the urgency for connection immediately… His voice (wise, a bit tempered, but mostly still wild) serves as the engine that drives this collection.” —Star Tribune