Jim Harrison: Complete Poems is the definitive collection from one of America’s iconic writers. Introduced by activist and naturalist writer Terry Tempest Williams, this tour de force contains every poem Harrison published over his fifty-year career and displays his wide range of poetic styles and forms. Here are the nature-based lyrics of his early work, the high-velocity ghazals, a harrowing prose-poem “correspondence” with a Russian suicide, the riverine suites, fearless meditations inspired by the Zen monk Crazy Cloud, and a joyous conversation in haiku-like gems with friend and fellow poet Ted Kooser. Weaving throughout these 1000 pages are Harrison’s legendary passions and appetites, his love songs and lamentations, and a clarion call to pay attention to the life you are actually living. The Complete Poems confirms that Jim Harrison is a talented storyteller with a penetrating eye for details, or as Publishers Weekly called him, “an untrammeled renegade genius… a poet talking to you instead of around himself, while doing absolutely brilliant and outrageous things with language.”
My bird-watching friends tell me, “You’re always seeing birds that don’t
exist.” And I answer that my eye seems to change nearly everything it
sees and is also drawn to making something out of nothing, a habit since
childhood. I’m so unreliable no one asks me, “What’s that?” knowing
that a sandhill crane in a remote field can become a yellow Volkswagen.
In moments, the girl’s blue dress becomes the green I prefer. Words
themselves can adopt confusing colors, which can become a burden
while reading. You don’t have to become what you already are, which is
a relief. Today in Sierra Vista while carrying six plastic bags of groceries
I fell down. Can that be a curb? What else? The ground rushed up and I
looked at gravel inches away, a knee and hands leaking blood. Time and
pain are abstractions you can’t see but you know when they’re with you
like a cold hard wind. It’s time to peel my heart off my sleeve. It sits there
red and glistening like a pig’s heart on Grandpa’s farm in 1947 and I have
to somehow get it back into my body.