to the small poem and the quiet voice within

jim harrison | the english major


I want to look at a cow
without my mind saying “cow.”

–Cliff (main character in THE ENGLISH MAJOR)

[from: THE ENGLISH MAJOR, Jim Harrison, Grove Press, 2008, $14]

Editor’s Note: A MUST read for English majors, English teachers, poets, novelists, Jim Harrison fans. Classic Harrison. It lives and breathes. Harrison Country from Michigan, the Midwest, the plains, the West and Southwest.

“It used to be Cliff and Vivian and now it isn’t.” With these words, Jim Harrison begins a riotous, moving novel that sends a sixty-something man, divorced and robbed of his farm by a late-blooming real estate shark of an ex-wife, on a road trip across America. Cliff is armed with a childhood puzzle of the fifty states and a mission to change the banal names white men have given them. His adventures take him from a whirlwind affair with a former student, to a “snake farm” in Arizona, and into the high-octane existence of his son, a big-time movie producer in San Francisco. A 2009 Michigan Notable Book, The English Major is vintage Harrison—reflective, big-picture American, and replete with wicked wit.–from the back cover


  1. Judith Wiker

    Well, well, well…look at that Jim Harrison and his Haiku will ya. Wonderful photo and poignant lines. Luscious! Is he available for a shot and a cupcake?

  2. Alice D'Alessio

    Here’s a book that really lives up to it’s front cover blurb! A real romp. I enjoyed it a lot.

  3. Jackie

    I love the Harrison I’ve read–looking forward to reading this one.

  4. Robert M. Zoschke

    Nazzzz…great to see you recognizing my Best Summer Read when it was originally out in Hardcover…marvelous to see you break down the prose into Haiku form…ahem…Zeeeee

  5. Dylan Tweney

    I really like that the photo accompanying this fragment shows Harrison with a *horse*.

  6. Barbara Fitz Vroman

    Guess I got to look into this guy.

  7. Ralph Murre

    Having come to Harrison much too late, I have spent the last few years trying to catch up. The word “master” is the only one that I think comes close to fitting the man, whether he’s writing a haiku or a novel. He tops my most-recommended list for long or short forms, and “Braided Creek”, written in tandem with Ted Kooser, has to be THE finest book available of modern haiku-like verse. I am always amazed at how many, like myself a couple of years ago, have never come across the man’s writings.

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