Praise for Night Garden

Judith Harris creates tableaux of memory and shines a keen light on the particulars of the natural world in these poignant, carefully observed, and scrupulously written poems that ache with mortality. Night Garden is an illuminating book!
Edward Hirsch

With her unwavering attention to mortality and the temporality of all things, even “the stars that are so heavy / they burn themselves alive,” Judith Harris always senses “just the right object / to illuminate, and recast into gold.” Poem after poem, she moves far beyond the art of having written a lyric; she has lived it, and, in living it, has taken it—and us—to a transcendent place. Night Garden is Judith Harris’s finest collection... Read more

Poetry Pairing | April 21, 2011

By Katherine Schulten
Michael Kim, center, who served in Iraq, participated in a workshop seeking better understanding between veterans and civilians.Michael Nagle for The New York Times Michael Kim, center, who served in Iraq, participated in a workshop seeking better understanding between veterans and civilians. Go to related article.

In our weekly "Poetry Pairing" series, we collaborate with the Poetry Foundation to feature a work from its American Life in Poetry project alongside content from The Times that somehow echoes, extends or challenges the poem's themes. Each poem is introduced briefly by Ted Kooser, a former United States poet laureate... Read more

Sysyem of Survival: The Great Wave by Ron Slate

Review by Judith Harris — Published on June 7, 2010

Twenticeth-century modernists asked whether the fragmented modern self could ever achieve an enlightened perspective on external things. Ron Slate's new collection, The Great Wave, demonstrates that, in the face of those worries, he can create psychologically complex and well-crafted poetry that also addresses the realm of objects now increasingly virtualized by technologies of communication. The postmodern subject must contend with a sense of being submerged in the global world of instant communication as well as with the ideological systems lurking within that global world of communication.
Indeed, one of Slate's themes throughout The Great Wave is how to contend with systems we depend upon for personal stability that are nonetheless generally illusory ... Read more

Psychoanalysis and Community Poetry Workshops

Judith Harris

Issues typically explored in the consulting room, such as grief,depression, and self-esteem, have now branched out into conversations between members of the community writing workshop, with therapeuticresults. The community poetry workshop offers people some of the same clinical benefits that group therapy does, a place for people to gather and to share private experiences in the safety of a public forum where social acceptance is nearly assured. What can a psychoanalytic understanding of the creative process bring to the success of these workshops? In ‘‘Creative Writers and Day-Dreaming’’, Freud (1907) connected the play of children with the fantasies of adults who are creative writers and posited the idea that creativity derives from repressed ... Read more

First Person: "will It Grow Back?"

When I started cancer treatment, I had to buy a wig. I didn’t know if I’d ever look the same again. I realized I was really a grownup the day I went to buy a wig before losing my hair to chemotherapy. Trying on wigs would have been a delight if I were five years old rummaging in my mother’s closet, stringing ruby beads around my neck, putting on her hat with the little veil. But I had reached the age where death was ubiquitous. You can only go forward from that knowledge. I had Stage One breast cancer. Because of my relatively young age of 42, surgery followed by four rounds of chemotherapy and six weeks of radiation was recommended—an ordeal that would take at least six months. Before the operation, the surgeon had warned me that a tube would be put down my throat to breathe for me. I wanted it to breathe for me. After my first round of chemo, I went shopping for a wig. The nurse ... Read more

Signifying Pain: Constructing andHealing the Self through Writing (Review)

American Imago - Volume 62, Number 1, Spring 2005, pp. 133-136 The Johns Hopkins University Press Jeffrey Berman - Signifying Pain: Constructing and Healing the Self through Writing (review) - American Imago 62:1 American Imago 62.1 (2005) 133-136 Signifying Pain: Constructing and Healing the Self through Writing. Judith Harris. Albany: State University of New York Press. 2003. xv + 304 pp. $81.50 (hc), $27.95 (pb). Signifying Pain is one of a growing number of books that explore the parallels between the "talking cure" and the "writing cure." It is perhaps the most impassioned of these books, written by a poet and scholar with a linguistic brilliance that few can match. Noting in the Preface that in a "Post-Freudian age in which the 'talking cure' has begotten a 'writing cure,' more writers analogize personal pain and political horror in an attempt to record and renovate the self through a shared language of suffering" (xi), Judith Harris demonstrates how many poets have transmuted private pain into enduring art. The Introduction defines clearly the theme of the book. "Writing about painful experiences defends against world-dissolving powers that ... Read more