In Search of Small Gods
(Copper Canyon)Jim Harrison has been writing poetry lo these many years, and if you want to give a theme to his writing, think love and passion and bare bottoms on television and 90-year-old Estonians and reading the Georgics by Virgil and walking the dry hills of the southwest and summers in Montana and trains and horses and boats and the full moon on Good Friday and the song of the mariachis, the old men in Hermosillo, along with the Penitentes.
Then there are aliens ... and what it means for an old man (him) to fall down flat on his face, "one of those mornings when my feet seemed unaware of each other." Finally, what it is like (surprise!) to be old not before but after your time ... because we all think we'll always be young and beautiful, even long after we aren't.
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Harrison is a pleasant and gentle writer, seems to be more at home with what the poetry professors call "prose poems" ... twenty or thirty lines with no end-stop, justified as poetry by music and the lovely thoughts, for instance, while "listening" (sic!) to television at midnight, learning "that everything in nature is disappearing."
Someone is always trying to scare us. Everyone wants to be a hit man for God these days.
According to the poop-piece from Copper Canyon Press, this is the writer's twelfth book of poems; more recently, god save us all, he was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters ... but we can forgive that. Anyone who can write about reading the Georgics and at the same moment let himself be caught watching "two women making love in a field of wildflowers" on the tv is to be forgiven nearly all and anything.--- Wendy Costello