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Songs of Unreason Hardcover – November 8, 2011


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 120 pages
  • Publisher: Copper Canyon Press; First Printing edition (November 8, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1556593899
  • ISBN-13: 978-1556593895
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.3 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #366,907 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Jim Harrison: Jim Harrison, one of America’s most versatile and celebrated writers, is the author of over thirty books of poetry, fiction, and nonfiction—including Legends of the Fall, the acclaimed trilogy of novellas, and The Shape of the Journey: New and Collected Poems. His books have been translated into two dozen languages, and in 2007 he was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters. With a fondness for open space and anonymous thickets, he divides his time between Montana and southern Arizona.


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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

41 of 41 people found the following review helpful By Kodiak B. on October 20, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Over his last three or four poetry books, Jim Harrison hit a genius stride, and I've been waiting for this new book since his gnarled face was on the cover of Narrative magazine when they published "Suite of Unreason." Reading that long poem was an amazing experience--like watching a wildfire from a hovering helicopter. And now, in book form, it is an even wilder wildfire. The suite is printed one-stanza-per-page on the left-hand pages, running throughout the entire book. The stanzas stand on their own as individual short poems, then flow together beautifully when read as an interlocking piece. On the right-hand pages are the 60-plus poems in the rest of the book (one of which appeared in the journal published by the Yale Divinity School). What happens, page after astonishing page, is exactly what poetry books are supposed to do: spark, swirl, and roar with energy and insights and music. The book is at least three books packaged as one: the long suite on its own; stanzas of "Suite of Unreason" in interplay with the "normal" poems; and the book read as the table of contents suggests. I've experienced the book in multiple ways, and plan to keep reading it until it falls apart in my hands. Then I'll buy a new one, because Songs of Unreason is going with me until the end.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Darrell Koerner on October 26, 2011
Format: Hardcover
"Songs of Unreason" is a tremendously beautiful and profound book, filled with insights into both the heart of man and the heart of the world. An amazing talisman created by American's greatest writer. Like a fine wine, Jim Harrison gets better and better with age. Thank you Jim...!
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Justin Hamm on July 5, 2012
Format: Hardcover
I've been rereading Jim Harrison's Songs of Unreason over the last week or so. At first, I thought I might try to review it this time around, but a second go through has only reminded me why I didn't attempt to "review" it the first time.

To put it simply: the whole things astounds me too much. This is a book that comes at you with the all the force of a powerful writer with something to say, something that has grown out of many years of living and thinking and feeling. I tried to read it like a poet and learn something about what the man is doing. But the magnetism of the poems kept pulling me into their centers where I'd forget I was supposed to be doing anything except inhaling. The fact that they were poems at all disappeared. I felt like I was listening with a tin can at the forehead of a grizzled old wise man and I had to be very quiet so I wouldn't miss anything.

God, I love these poems. It was hard to choose exactly what lines to put here to show you why, but I settled on the final lines from "Nightfears," since that poem goes into several of Harrison's big themes--human fears, the hard truth of human failings, our relationship to nature, just to name a few. The poem begins with a list of what might frighten us in the dark and then toward the middle imagines that "The night/has decided to stick around for a week."

And here is how that strange disruption of the usual day/night cycle turns out:
. . .
When the red sun decides to rise again we humans
of earth swim through the acrid milk of our brains
toward a rising light, a new song on our lips,
but all creatures retreat from us, their murderers.
In real dawn's early light my poached egg is only an egg.

I give you these lines without commentary. They don't need any, or if they do, not from me. All I can do is reach up and close my jaw and remind myself to breathe. Which I had to do about fifty times while reading this collection.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Fishing Writing on October 29, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Like Letters to Yesenin, and Jim Harrison's more recent poetry, Songs of Unreason alternately soothes, stirs and tells the truth. With the cover art by Russell Chatham adding to the overall presentation, this beautiful book reaffirms the art of the book, the durability and vividness of poetry and ultimately provides real hope.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Neodoering on November 8, 2013
Format: Paperback
*Songs of Unreason* is an okay book of poems by Jim Harrison, but it didn't blow me away, which is why I gave it three stars. He covers a lot of ground in this collection, and there are a lot of nature poems and reflections on life and death. My favorite poem in this book was "Greed," about all the things he wants more of, including more money and more life. The book is set up in an interesting way, with longer poems on the right-hand pages and short poems on the left-hand pages. There are a number of poems about women and several with rattlesnakes in them and a few celebrating his wife and marriage. One of the short poems particularly struck me; it goes like this:
A local girl walked over the top
of the Absaroka Mountain range
and was never seen again. Some say
a grizzly bear got her, some say aliens,
I think that fueled by loneliness
she is still walking.

I thought this was a good collection, but didn't stand out to me in any way. It is a competent collection but not extraordinary. What I liked about it was the feeling of being invited into a long life that had seen many happenings, upon which the author had long reflected. If you're looking for a quiet day's poetry you could do worse than this collection, but you can do better, too...
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