Thursday, March 29, 2018

the last book I ever read (Off to the Side: A Memoir by Jim Harrison, excerpt eleven)

from Off to the Side: A Memoir by Jim Harrison:

I continued to write slowly under the cautionary onus of having read fine poetry in great quantity. In the spring of our first year I had ten completed poems and wanted to get back in touch wih Galway Kinnell, who had been quite encouraging in a conversation we had had when he appeared at Michigan State. He had been subletting Denise Levertov’s New York City apartment and that was the only number I had. I spoke with Denise whose work I knew quite well and she suggested I send some of my poems to her. I did so with a great deal of nervousness because no one but my wife, Linda, still my first and most valued reader, had seen my poems, certainly not my fellow unpublished poets. By common unworded consent we took the private high road, mostly out of the fear of judgment. As any scam artist knows you maintain your credibility by keeping others in the dark, and there had always been a tiny nodule back in my brain telling me I was a fake. For survival a young artist boundlessly inflates his ego hoping very much that the evidence will naturally follow. This was frankly a period in my life when I spent as little time as possible in front of a mirror.

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