Richard Harrison is a member of the Faculty of English at Mount Royal University in Calgary, and is a multiple-award-winning poet, essayist, and editor. His most recent book, On Not Losing My Father’s Ashes in the Flood, has been awarded the 2017 Governor General’s Literary Award for Poetry. The book was shortlisted for the City of Calgary W.O. Mitchell Book Prize and won the Stephan G. Stephansson Alberta Poetry Prize.
The great Alberta flood of 2013 slides through Richard Harrison’s latest collection, its rising waters pulling his books of poetry off their shelves, washing the ink from letters kept in boxes in the basement and threatening to carry off his father’s ashes. On these waters float Harrison’s mourning for his father, who suffered a form of dementia later in life but never forgot the poems he’d memorized as a young man.
Alongside these, the waters also carry Harrison’s love of comic books, his struggles with haiku and his willingness to stay in the game, to “try again.” Combining elements of memoir, elegy, lyrical essay and personal correspondence, On Not Losing My Father’s Ashes in the Flood is a generous and enchanting book, one that leaves you, like the poet, thinking about the way “characters in a novel can escape anything / except their story
Harrison’s poems will sing to you long after you have closed this poignant book.
Danell Jones, Billings Gazette, 14/07/2017
The poems are not retrospective so much as they are what we might call intraspective, examining themselves and each other for signs of permanence at the same time as they acknowledge their impermanence.
Alex Rettie, Alberta Reviews, 01/07/2017
The beauty in this book, what brings it close to being a gem, is the writer’s ability to craft a vision of his inner struggle through personal dilemma that jointly allows the reader to address their own internal inquiry. That vulnerability, that openness, is what makes the poems in this volume ring.
Sharon Berg, League of Canadian Poets, 03/09/2017
These gentle and compassionate poems are made of interlocking puzzle pieces so meticulously set into place and rendered that the seams become invisible.”
Michael Dennis, Today’s Book of Poetry, 02/09/2017
Harrison has certainly delivered true infant gleamings of awe and sorrow in what is undoubtedly among the most searing poetry collections of 2016.
Catherine Owen, Marrow Reviews, 12/02/2016
- Winner of the Governor General’s Literary Award for Poetry
- Winner of the Stephan G. Stephansson Award for Poetry
- Winner of the 3rd Prize for Poetry in the 2017 Alcuin Society’s Book Design Awards
- Shortlisted for the City of Calgary 2016 W.O. Mitchell Book Prize
- Finalist for the Poetry category of the High Plains Book Awards
Book Excerpts Read by the Author
Listen below to hear Richard reading two poems from his collection:
Watch and listen to Sarah Howden, a creative writing student, interview Richard Harrison:
See more about and purchase the book at: http://wolsakandwynn.ca/books/163-on-not-losing-my-father-s-ashes-in-the-flood