"In Search of Small Gods" by Jim Harrison

By Jim Harrison

Reviewed by Heidi

ISBN 9781556593192

Some stars seem to disappear when you look directly at them; only when you turn your head are you able to perceive them, twinkling at the edge of your vision. Small gods, Harrison tells us, are much the same. Populated with birds and children, old men and peonies, Harrison’s poems invite us to climb out of our heads and into the world. Get lost, he says: the gods of the ordinary are dancing all around you, waiting for you to join them. All you have to do is slow down enough to notice.
Harrison’s twelfth collection of poetry and prose is permeated with airy humor, poignant reflections on life and death, and a deep sense of childlike wonder at the beautiful, heartbreaking world we inhabit. Disclaimer: this book may cause you to put down whatever you’re doing to go wandering into canyons and down dirt roads, pausing to dip your hand into crisp, cold spring water or gaze wistfully up at the bright moon. As Harrison puts it in Goat Boy:
“We are nature, too, and some of us do less well
in this invented world, or if we do well for a while
there is that backward stare from these overplowed fields
to the wild woodlot and creek in the distance.
At seven I went out to play and was lost in the woods
for a day and never understood the way back home.”
(A few of Heidi’s favorite poems from In Search of Small Gods: “Calendars”, “Spring”, “The Golden Window”, “Fibber”, “Old Bird Boy”, and “Complaint & Plea”.)

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