On Not Losing My Father's Ashes in the Flood
84 pages | ISBN 978-1-928088-22-6
*Winner of the Governor General's Literary Award for Poetry*
*Winner of the Stephan G. Stephansson Award for Poetry*
*Winner of the 3rd Prize for Poetry in the 2017 Alcuin Society's Book Design Awards*
*Shortlisted for the City of Calgary 2016 W.O. Mitchell Book Prize*
*Finalist for the Poetry category of the High Plains Book Awards*
The great Alberta flood of 2013 slides through Richard Harrison’s latest collection, its rising waters pulling his books of poetry off their shelves, washing the ink from letters kept in boxes in the basement and threatening to carry off his father’s ashes. On these waters float Harrison’s mourning for his father, who suffered a form of dementia later in life but never forgot the poems he’d memorized as a young man. Alongside these, the waters also carry Harrison’s love of comic books, his struggles with haiku and his willingness to stay in the game, to “try again.” Combining elements of memoir, elegy, lyrical essay and personal correspondence, On Not Losing My Father’s Ashes in the Flood is a generous and enchanting book, one that leaves you, like the poet, thinking about the way “characters in a novel can escape anything / except their story.”
"Calgary Bestsellers: Non-fiction" (Calgary Herald, 26/11/2016)
On Not Losing My Father's Ashes in the Flood was #1 on the Calgary non-fiction bestseller list.
Well-crafted poems highlight book (Danell Jones, Billings Gazette, 14/07/2017)
"Harrison’s poems will sing to you long after you have closed this poignant book."
Bookshelf: On Not Losing My Father's Ashes in the Flood (Alex Rettie, Alberta Reviews, 01/07/2017)
"The poems are not retrospective so much as they are what we might call intraspective, examining themselves and each other for signs of permanence at the same time as they acknowledge their impermanence."
"Review: On Not Losing My Father's Ashes in the Flood" (Sharon Berg, League of Canadian Poets, 03/09/2017)
"The beauty in this book, what brings it close to being a gem, is the writer’s ability to craft a vision of his inner struggle through personal dilemma that jointly allows the reader to address their own internal inquiry. That vulnerability, that openness, is what makes the poems in this volume ring."
"Today's Book of Poetry" (Michael Dennis, Today's Book of Poetry, 02/09/2017)
"These gentle and compassionate poems are made of interlocking puzzle pieces so meticulously set into place and rendered that the seams become invisible."
"Two from Buckrider 2016" (Catherine Owen, Marrow Reviews, 12/02/2016)
"Harrison has certainly delivered true infant gleamings of awe and sorrow in what is undoubtedly among the most searing poetry collections of 2016."
Why Richard Harrison's highest and lowest points were right beside each other
CBC Books, Richard Harrison, 01/11/2017
"The lowest points come from outside the writing: my father's and my father-in-law's deaths a year apart. And the flood itself. But to be fair to the puzzle at the core of art, those low and terrible times are times that forced the poetry to grow, to come up with answers I would never have otherwise, in words to what was wordlessly and unstoppably there. So the highest and lowest points were right beside each other."
Listen below to hear Richard reading two poems from his collection:
About the Author
Richard Harrison’s eight books include the Governor General’s Award–finalist Big Breath of a Wish, and Hero of the Play, the first book of poetry launched at the Hockey Hall of Fame. He teaches English and Creative Writing at Calgary’s Mount Royal University, a position he took up after being the Distinguished Writer-in-Residence at the University of Calgary in 1995. His work has been published, broadcast and displayed around the world, and his poems have been translated into French, Spanish, Portuguese and Arabic. In On Not Losing My Father’s Ashes in the Flood, Richard reflects on his father’s death, the Alberta Flood and what poetry offers a life lived around it.
Other Titles by this Author
Worthy of His Fall (2005)
Big Breath of a Wish (1998)