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J.S. Harry died in 2015 she was acknowledged as one of the great female poets
of her generation, alongside Fay Zwicky, Antigone Kefala, Jennifer Maiden and Judith
commemorative volume gathers poems from all her collections, as well as new
poems written in the last years of her life.
As the use of
initials in her writing name suggests, Jann Harry was a very private person. She
was also gentle, kind, solicitous and endlessly curious - she would probe,
enquire, pursue - everything seemed interesting to her. And she had another
quality which was extraordinary, and which, along with her shyness and
curiosity, is such a powerful presence in her poetry: this was her
attentiveness to the life of the natural world and its creatures.
Her poems typically
take a quizzical stance, which holds a strange or complex moment up to scrutiny,
and then pursues its implications. Her attention is caught by the smallest
effects of nature, the delicate responses of animals - and also the gestures and
words of humans, finely observed, with a sense of the mystery or menace they
contain. The effect may be comic or surreal - or fierce, in its condemnation of
oppression. Her mastery of the poetic line - the pause, the sudden shift
in emphasis or perspective - and above all her interest in language, enhance
these effects. Peter
Porter rightly declared Harry to be 'the most arresting poet working in
The poems included in Selected
Poems were chosen by J.S. Harry herself, and her long-time friend, the poet