cover image Theory and Practice of Rivers and New Poems

Theory and Practice of Rivers and New Poems

Jim Harrison. Clark City Press, $13.95 (76pp) ISBN 978-0-944439-10-4

Mourning the death of his 16-year-old niece, Gloria, to whom this work is dedicated, Harrison ( Legends of the Fall; Dalva ) here waxes more philosophical and romantic than in any of his previous poetry collections. His New Age ideology is problematic, however, in its attempts to combine primitive myths with a landscape he has absorbed firsthand. The natural world of northern Michigan reflected in the poems will be familiar to readers of Harrison's fiction, but the transformation of ordinary creatures into spiritual beings will ring false. The long title poem, comprising nearly half the book, is a rambling, often surrealistic meditation on the meaning of life and death, begging comparison to a river journey in which ``how the water goes / is how the earth is shaped.'' Fragmented at best, this and other poems in the book's first section touch memories of people and rivers that fill the narrator's past, but do not adequately share these with the reader. Ten poems appearing in print for the first time, which end the collection, are less ambitious, but far more successful in exploring casual moments and conveying a sense of their importance. (Oct.)