Friday, April 10, 2009

These Just In

This afternoon I picked up two new books of poems I had ordered through The Bookman, our local bookstore, which I am glad to say is up and running again after the fire. The first is Sonata Mulattica by Rita Dove (W.W. Norton, 2009), which tells the story of George Polgreen Bridgetower (1780-1860), a half-African, half-European musician who was a contemporary of Haydn and Beethoven. I heard Dove talking about the book on NPR and it sounded interesting for many reasons, not least (to me) being the opportunity to study how Dove balances lyric and narrative as she tells the story of a very real, though somewhat obscure, historical figure.

The second book is Jim Harrison's In Search of Small Gods (Copper Canyon Press, 2009). I am always happy to have a new collection from Harrison, who is primarily known as a fiction writer, but whose true and lasting gift, in my opinion, is as a poet.

Here's a short poem from Harrison's book that is particularly timely, since today is both Good Friday and a full moon.


Release yourself. Life is a shock to the system.
It was to the small javelina ever flattening
on the yellow line on a hot afternoon.
Release yourself. You've always doubted cars,
remembering when trains and horses were enough
and boats kept our ocean skies unmarred.
Release yourself. Your doubt is only the patina
of shit the culture paints on those in the margins.
Tomorrow the full moon is on Good Friday,
the blind face of the gods who can't see us anymore.

-Jim Harrison


Blogger friberg said...

And I love Russell Chatham's work on Jim Harrison's books...

I still think I like his fiction more than his poetry..."Farmer" is one of my favorites

2:53 PM  
Blogger greg rappleye said...

Yes, Farmer is very good. My favorite of his novels is Sundog.

Have you read The Theory & Practice of Rivers?

The title poem alone is worth the price of the book.

4:18 PM  
Blogger friberg said...

I don't know The Theory and Practice of Rivers, but do have selected poems from it in "Shape of the Journey." I'll spend some time with them...

the title poem is especially wonderful as I read the first couple of pages (and you're right...the title is terrific.)
thanks for the tip.

5:14 PM  
Blogger Hannah said...

dad, who did the illustration on harrison's new book?

9:04 PM  
Blogger greg rappleye said...


All of the painitngs that appea ron Jim Harrison's books are by the Montana artist Russell Chatham. I've met Chatham several times--you might have, too; when you were young.

I have 4 or five Chatham posters at home on the walls.

8:47 AM  

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