Why am I gathering my poems?

Hi everyone,

For a while now I’ve been considering the merit of bringing into one file all of my poems. The reason is unclear to me. I hope it’s not ego in overdrive because I’ve got the darned books right here in front of me. I could sleep with them if I wanted to.
Nor do I believe there’s a publisher out there with a hankering to bring out the unabridged Harrison works. I can’t decide what prompted the thought. Last night I didn’t sleep well, got up thinking about this, and just jumped in.
I thought of course that I could copy from each book file onto a new file and the whole process wouldn’t take that long. Very wrong. Files become lost in the shuffle over time and with change of programs and computers. I’ve spent this day so far typing poems from the books into the computer. Not fun and definitely not productive. It can also be painful reading old work. Lots of wincing going on here at the keyboard.
To give up or continue, that’s the question. So far I’m up to THE PURCHASE OF SMALL SECRETS, 1998. Before too long I’ll finally reach the more current files where I can indeed copy and paste to march right along. For now, it’s another 48 poems to type. I don’t have time for this. I don’t have time for this. I don’t have time for this. Well okay, maybe just one more . . .


10 comments on “Why am I gathering my poems?

  1. I have been doing a similar kind of thing–finding all picture book starts or poems I considered possibly picture books and\ retyping them into the new(ish) computer. When I should have been working on books under contract.

    I see this as an artifact of aging. Wanting to somehow rescue a life’s work in case. . .in the hopes. . .that gold can be discovered in them thar hills. The way other even older (and dead) writers’ works are mined by their heirs.


    • Jane, I think you’re right. I have some sense that I want to save things that I don’t remember having before. And just in case someone somewhere sometime should want to dig into what I spent a lifetime doing . . .

    • Sounds like you want to be the heir to yourself, when you grow up!
      Or maybe you want to be a data processor instead of an artist, for a day.
      Centered, on solid footing. No need to create. Or comply for a treat. Pick from the bouquet!

      • Hmm. Maybe you’re right. My dad was a bean counter and one of my strongest subjects in grad school was statistics. Maybe in my heart I’m just following in my dad’s footsteps.

  2. Hey, if Pat Lewis can come out with a greatest hits package, David Harrison certainly can, too! Why not put out some feelers and see if there’s interest?

    And as long as it doesn’t impede your ability to work on current projects, I don’t think it’s necessarily a bad idea to look over and digitize some of your old work for inspiration – last fall, a well-established fellow (whose name I must keep to myself for now) shared with me a couple of stanzas he never pursued, and together we nailed down a complete PB ms we’re now subbing. But transferring every scrap of line to digital…that is, indeed, a monumental task perhaps best tackled another day!

    • Good morning, Matt, and thanks for the encouragement. I don’t really intend to try the market with my collection although it would be fun to see something like that happen. I just seem to need to do this. And as you say it’s always possible that the mere exercise could lead to the discovery of a new project.

      • Indeed, the gathering up and resaving all of my unfinished stories — at least, the ones I thought could be rescued — did indeed lead to revision and the recent series of sales to HIGH FIVE. But resaving what’s already been saved in books? Not sure what to think about that. My impulse these days is to go through, give away, or throw away everything I can, literary and otherwise, so the kids won’t have to be bothered with it. I do have all my books lined up on shelves in order of appearance. Probably should do that with the plays, too. In case anyone’s ever interested.

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