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Back to the Modern American Haiku Poets

Jim Harrison (1937-) and Ted Kooser (1939-)
[joint haiku collection]

——— . Braided Creek: A Conversation in Poetry. Port Townsend, Wash.: Copper Canyon Press, 2003.

Jim Harrison, one of America's best-loved writers, is author of two dozen books of poetry, fiction, essays, food criticism, and memoir. He is best known for a collection of novellas, Legends of the Fall, and the epic novel Dalva. He lives in western Montana and southern Arizona.

Ted Kooser is the author of eight collections of poetry and a prose memoir. His poetry appears regularly in The Atlantic Monthly, The New Yorker, Poetry, and The Nation. He lives in Nebraska.


And in Braided Creek, by Jim Harrison and Ted Kooser, among many brief free-verse poems are pure classic haiku such as “Old centipede” (15), “Another spring” (31), “Rain clouds gone” (37), and “In my garden” (49). Harrison and Kooser, as in John Brandi and Steve Sanfield’s earlier joint haiku collections, do not reveal which of them wrote which poems, so we can only guess.

"Braided Creek" contains more than 300 poems exchanged in this longstanding correspondence. Wise, wry, and penetrating, the poems touch upon numerous subjects, from the natural world to the nature of time. Harrison and Kooser decided to remain silent over who wrote which poem, allowing their voices, ideas, and images to swirl and merge into this...

After Jim Harrison and Ted Kooser had exchanged letters and poems for years, Kooser was diagnosed with cancer. "Ted's poetry became overwhelmingly vivid," Harrison recalls. "Then we decided to correspond in short poems, because that was the essence of what we wanted to say to each other." "Braided Creek" contains over 300 poems exchanged in this...

You told me you couldn’t see
a better day coming,
so I gave you my eyes.

From Booklist
Friends and fellow poets Harrison and Kooser decided to have a correspondence entirely in short poems after Kooser was diagnosed with cancer and, Harrison says, "Ted's poetry became overwhelmingly vivid." The results of that decision are gathered here, and none of the two- to five-line writings is individually signed. Telling whose poem is whose is virtually impossible, and, not to gainsay Harrison, vividness, visual or tactile, takes second place to wit and wisdom in their colloquy. Both men are famous outlander poets, Harrison more the woodsman-hunter, perhaps, and Kooser the farmer-rancher, and their common basic concerns are land and water and animals, especially dogs and birds (when one is perforce in New York, "on a wet / and bitter street / I heard a crow from home"). They sound betimes like up-to-date imagists or haiku poets, pungent rural epigrammatists out of Jonathan Williams' Blues & Roots, Rue & Bluets (1971) and Wendell Berry's Sayings & Doings (1975), or just two crusty old codgers. Their conversation always repays eavesdropping.
Ray Olson Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved


While my bowl is still half full,
you can eat out of it too,
and when it is empty,
just bury it out in the flowers.


All those years
I had in my pocket.
I spent them,


Each clock tick falls
like a raindrop,
right through the floor
as if it were nothing.


In the morning light,
the doorknob, cold with dew.


Each time I go outside the world
is different. This has happened
all my life.


The moon put her hand
over my mouth and told me
to shut up and watch.


A nephew rubs the sore feet
of his aunt,
and the rope that lifts us all toward grace
creaks on the pulley.


Under the storyteller's hat
are many heads, all troubled.