Poet Jim Harrison: The Saddest News
It is with profound sadness that we share this news: Poet and novelist Jim Harrison died on March 26, 2016, of natural causes. He was 78. His latest book of poems, Dead Man's Float, had just been released.
While many obituaries and tributes are being printed and broadcast (see partial list below), one aspect of his character that we loved was his fierce loyalty to independent publishers: Grove Atlantic published his fiction and Copper Canyon published his poetry.
In an essay about poetry, Jim Harrison wrote: "Poetry, at its best, is the language your soul would speak if you could teach your soul to speak."
He certainly spoke the language, and Dead Man's Float concludes with "Bridge," where Jim talks about his life's work:
Most of my life was spent
building a bridge out over the sea
though the sea was too wide.
I'm proud of the bridge
hanging in the pure sea air...
and the poem concludes:
So I sit on the edge, wagging my feet above
the abyss. Tonight the moon will be in my lap.
This is my job, to study the universe
from my bridge. I have the sky, the sea, the faint
green streak of Canadian forest on the far shore.
Select obituaries for Jim Harrison:
New York Times
National Public Radio
The New Yorker (remembrance by Thomas McGuane)