Jim Harrison: Complete Poems

Jim Harrison

Editors’ Choice Selection, The New York Times Book Review

** Starred Reviews ** in Library Journal and Booklist

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.”

ISBN: 9781556595936

Format: Hardcover


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.

About the Author

Jim Harrison (1937–2016) was the author of over three dozen books, including Legends of the Fall and Dalva, and served as the food columnist for the magazines Brick and Esquire. He published fourteen volumes of poetry, the final being Dead Man’s Float (2016). His work has been translated into two dozen languages and produced as four feature-length films. As a young poet he co-edited Sumac magazine with fellow poet Dan Gerber, and earned fellowships from the National Endowment for the …

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“A pitch-perfect field guide, Harrison scouts with full sense of kinship and acrobatic powers of both language and imagination his life’s landscapes, events, and fellow creatures. His direct, chiselled statements of thought, feeling, and invention make the world bigger in every dimension.” —Jane Hirschfield, Ploughshares

“This robust volume is a testament to the fortitude of a great American poet’s work… [a] landmark collection.” ―Raul Niño, Booklist, starred review

“[E]ven the readers who know him may not know that Harrison began as a poet and remained one for the rest of his life…. [Jim Harrison: Complete Poems is] a massive and bounteous body of work that would have made Harrison a significant American writer even if he had never published in any other genre.” ―The New York Times Book Review, Editors’ Choice

“In a collection that spans decades of living and writing, there are poems of every character, many of them superb.” ―Library Journal, starred review

“This densely rich book…places Harrison among the pantheon of our best American poets.” ―New York Journal of Books

“That’s what makes his poetry so intimate: the sense that it comes to us without filter, without the expectations or necessity of narrative. It is why I will always think of Harrison, most of all, as a poet.” ―David Ulin, Alta

“When [Jim Harrison: Complete Poems] arrives in the mail I stare at it for a time a little dumbfounded. It is gorgeous and it is massive…. The next day I carried it north with me to the Flathead Indian Reservation. I am teaching poetry to fourth- and fifth graders there. At the beginning of each of four classes I held the book up for everyone to see. We passed it around so everyone could feel its heft, see the photo on the back cover of the grizzled poet, his eyes turned down, drawing on the ubiquitous cigarette. I described it as a physical representation of a life devoted to poetry and how wonderful that is. I was asked how long it will take me to read the whole thing. ‘A lifetime,’ I answer.”―Chris La Tray, The Missoulian

“To say that Harrison’s Complete Poems is Shakespearian in scope is probably an exaggeration, but only a little. Harrison certainly had far more time than the Bard to devote to his literary endeavors. . . . There is no denying the power and influence of his ghazals of the early 1970s, and if his voracious appetite for experience offends some readers, it’s clear he was one of the major poets of the last six decades, someone who believed “’in the Resurrection mostly / because he was never taught how not to.’” —California Review of Books

“The publication of the Jim Harrison: Complete Poems will be the major poetic event of the season.” ―Paul Yamazaki, City Lights Booksellers

“Harrison luxuriates in our dumb, dirty world creating in his work a grimy spirituality.” ―Kristofer Collins, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

“Some of the poems are funny, some are serious, and many are bawdy, but none will disappoint a reader.” —Bill Castanier, Lansing City Pulse

“A study in endurance as well as calling . . . In the course of nearly 900 pages, Harrison’s journey is worth following.”    —Petoskey News


Library Journal‘s “Most Anticipated Poetry Books of 2021”