May these days remain unfinished
a while longer, with no artist
jostling his way in
to apply some final flourish
or a coat of varnish that will
– excerpt from “Varnishing Days” by Jeffrey Harrison
“Jeffrey Harrison’s deceptive, beautifully made, uncanny new poems have a calm surface and a roiling undertow. How quietly and obsessively he probes and captures those singular moments – fragile, vanishing, too blue to last – that deepen into the unknown.” - Edward Hirsch
In the title poem of his sixth book of poetry, “Between Lakes,” Jeffrey Harrison recounts sneaking away on some evenings to a quiet spot near his house in the Adirondacks. There, at the edge of an inlet, he ponders this “in-between zone” of light and dark, presence and absence. It’s a theme that carries beautifully through this poignant tapestry of a son’s lifetime relationship with his father.
Growing up in the rolling green country outside of Cincinnati with summers spent in New York’s Adirondacks, Harrison grounds his work with deep connection to the natural world. River bends and lake reflections hint at sorrow and mystery underneath, persistent vines are a cancer spread, and the sunshine growth of late spring is a still-damp painting waiting to be finished. Wonderfully accessible and relatable, the poems invite repeated reading to reveal riches of understanding and catharsis. Because at a certain age – or more precisely, this exact point in time – we all find ourselves between lakes.
Jeffrey Harrison is the author of six books of poetry and winner of two Pushcart Prizes, the Amy Lowell Traveling Poetry Scholarship, the Dorset Prize, and the Sheila Motton Award from the New England Poetry Club. He is the recipient of fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts, and his poems have appeared in The New Republic, The New Yorker, The Nation, Poetry, The Yale Review, The Hudson Review, American Poetry Review, and The Paris Review. He has taught at George Washington University; Phillips Academy, where he was the Roger Murray Writer-in-Residence; College of the Holy Cross; Framingham State College; and the Stonecoast MFA Program; and in summer programs at the Chautauqua Institute, the Wesleyan Writers’ Conference, and The Frost Place.