KWH Pick of the Week: from “Things Come On” By Joseph Harrington, Chosen by Sarah Fox

Posted on February 11, 2013


Knox Writers’ House Contributor’s Pick of the Week 2/11/2013

from Things Come On by Joseph Harrington in Lawrence, KS 

Chosen by Sarah Fox in Minneapolis/ St. Paul  who says:

Joe and I had breakfast together at Victor’s Cuban Cafe in Minneapolis about a year ago. He was visiting Minneapolis from Kansas City, having been invited by Maria Damon to read from this amazing book and to share his thoughts on docupoetics with students at the University of Minnesota. I love this essay Joe wrote for Jacket2 about documentary poetry. THINGS COME ON is a beautiful full-length book in which Joe begins his investigation into the life and death of his mother, whose battle with breast cancer coincided with the unfolding of the Watergate scandal—an incredible confluence of public and private catastrophe, of radical imaginal rupture (for country and for son). The book includes letters, horoscopes (!), photographs, diagrams, collage, endnotes, text from the Watergate hearings, and–as here–occasions of lyric intensity, overall accomplishing a super original poetic. THINGS COME ON is the first in a projected trilogy about his mother. I enjoy hearing Joe read these lyric poems for the Knox Writer’s House (you guys are so awesome!)–they sound disembodied from the complexity of the text, but so resonant with it as well. And, he’s got such a lovely, clear, warm voice; and plus he’s engaged in this amazing rememory (or “amneoir” as he calls it) of the life of his mother –including the parts that are pre-him (and, in a sense, post-her)–the effect of which feels like a luminous assertion of motherhood itself, especially as it co-exists with the insidious specter of patriarchal politics. His documentical recomposition of his mother achieves an extension of her energy and life–an antidote (or offering) to her physical absence from the world. Joe’s work models how elastic and accommodating poetry can be–how limitless, and orienting, and human. I’m glad to have the chance to invite your listen. XO

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