Jim Harrison

Jim Harrison (1937-2016), “Returning to Earth,” 2007

who died on March 26th, 2016 at the age of 78, was one of those figures people call “larger than life.” A novelist, essayist, poet, screenplay writer and master of the novella, Harrison dealt in his work with issues such as mortality, illness, living the solitary life, redemption and absolution, work that, as the NY Times obituary said, captured the resonant, almost mythic soul of 20th-century rural America. Among his best known novels were Legends of the Fall and Wolf, both of which became major Hollywood films.
Picture for Jim Harrison (1937-2016), “Returning to Earth,” 2007

Author Jim Harrison and a life told through poetry

Jim Harrison once told me that I was reading poetry all wrong. He told me not to read a book of poetry in one setting, but rather to “read a poem a day,” and then think about it. At that rate, I should be able to work through his new gargantuan poetry book, “Jim Harrison: Complete Poems,” in about three years.
Picture for Author Jim Harrison and a life told through poetry

A Holy Terror Dancing with Light: On Jim Harrison

Jim Harrison named one of his hunting dogs Joy Williams or perhaps it was just Joy. She was named after me in any case. Jim was perhaps having a bit of fun, knowing my horror of the hunt. She might well have been a gay and avid associate, reveling in the tristesse of falling birds, but I prefer to think of her as reluctant, anguished about such an enterprise, failing to thrill to it. I prefer to think of her questioning the rightness of it, finding the whole bewildering activity loathsome. She adored Jim, of course, but saw the world differently, like Ahab’s whale who sees a different ocean from each side of its massive head. I prefer to think of Jim taking the hunting dog Joy’s feelings into account, for he thought highly of dogs as well as ravens, loons, horses, bears, dolphins (“certainly as dear as people to themselves”), and all manner of creatures, and would dismiss any philosophy that found them unworthy of grace or our concern.