Jim Harrison: The Essential Poems is distilled from fourteen volumes—from visionary lyrics and meditative suites to shape-shifting ghazals and prose-poem letters. Teeming throughout these pages are Harrison’s legendary passions and appetites, his meditations, rages, and love-songs to the natural world. The New York Times concluded a review from early in Harrison’s career with a provocative quote: “This is poetry worth loving, hating, and fighting over, a subjective mirror of our American days and needs.” That sentiment still holds true, as Jim Harrison’s essential poems continue to call for our fiercest attention.
Also included are full-color images of poem drafts—both typescripts and holographs—as well as the letter Denise Levertov sent to publisher W.W. Norton in the early 1960s, advocating for Harrison’s debut collection.
“His resonant, necessary poems are even hungrier, and more demanding of proof that living matters. These poems bear-crawl gorgeously after a genuine connection to being, thrashing in giant leaps through the underbrush to find consolation, purpose, and redemption. In his raw, original keening he ambushes moments of unimaginable beauty, one after another, line after line. Harrison digs in the dirt and finds the stars.” —Dean Kuipers, Literary Hub
“Readers will be compelled to read all his poems after reading these. They will long for more.” —New York Journal of Books
“Reading this essential volume, one might image that the gods are, indeed, staying up late, reading lights on, turning the pages.” —Booklist, starred review
“[Harrison] may no longer be with us, but this book grabs you by the collar and tells you in eleven hundred ways to wake up.” —John Freeman, Literary Hub
“An untrammeled renegade genius… Here is a poet talking to you instead of around himself, while doing absolutely brilliant and outrageous things with language.” ―Publishers Weekly
“The Essential Poems provides a good introduction―or reintroduction―to the work of this singular writer… these pieces illustrate Harrison’s range and his ease with various formats, from lyric poems to meditative suites to prose poems. They also spotlight his deep, rugged kinship with rural landscapes and the natural world, where ‘the cost of flight is landing.’” ―Washington Post
“It is hard-boiled poetry, some of the best of its kind, and one is not surprised to know that Harrison has written very tough novels… His poetic vision is at the heart of it all.” ―Harper’s