Poetry at its best is the language your soul would speak if you could teach your soul to speak. - Jim Harrison
It’s extremely difficult to choose one quote from Jim Harrison, who passed away this week at the age of 78, to encapsulate the significance of his writing to me, so I chose the first one I could remember. I don’t know if Jim would agree, but I think you could substitute painting, dance, sculpture, composition, even prose – any art form – for his “poetry” as an expression of the soul. The “best,” i.e. most powerful, art communicates that which can be communicated in no other way.
Not only did he help me understand the necessity of art, Mr. Harrison exemplified a way of living that found charm, even sublimity, in the details of everyday life, such as opening a bottle of wine, choosing ingredients for a meal to be cooked at home, or walking with a dog along a wooded trail (all things I also love to do, I might add). Harrison’s writing burst forth from the page with seemingly every emotion we are able to feel. He could deftly take us from the highs of childlike, innocent discovery to the oh-so-adult, stress-ridden ditches of doubt and self-consciousness.
For Mr. Harrison, to be narrow was to be boring, and he was anything but. He recognized life as a precious, fleeting experience and tried his damnedest to make the most of it. We’re all lucky that he shared his gifted mind with us. Mr. Harrison questioned and explored everything, even his own motives, and he always seemed honest about what he discovered. We’d all do well to follow that example. - Mark