Poet Latif Harris
Barter Within the Bark of Trees
Sunday, May 31st – 2 pm
Poet Latif Harris examines aging and the tricks memory plays on the instrument of the mind in his new collection of poems, to be presented at Bird & Beckett on May 31st at 2 pm. The book, Barter Within the Bark of Trees, has just been published by Duende Press — which published his first book some 50 years ago! — and comprises a combination of contemplative and meditational work. The book works also as a study of the historical literary culture of the time, and encompasses his life as a poet beginning with work begun at the age of 33 when he discovered his “poetic voice” after months of automatic writing.
Latif’s prior collection, Bodhisattva’s Busted Truth, was published by Browser Books San Francisco in 2006, and was reprinted in 2011. Beat scholar Gerald Nicosia noted for the 2006 edition of that book “…there is an authentic strangeness in the configuration of Latif’s imagery and word sound… he is not afraid to take that big flow, like (the work of) Gregory Corso… which is one of the hardest things in poetry to do, illuminating life itself…” For the 2011 reissue, beat poet David Meltzer wrote, “The poems herein express an amazing range of spiritual searching, a journey articulated with deep precision and heart. Harris joins a lineage of American poet seekers like Whitman, Thomas Merton, and Gary Snyder.” Jack Hirschman, San Francisco Poet Laureate Emeritus, said, “The poetry of Latif Harris contains his lifelong serious involvement with Buddhism and death as the heart of the art of the transit journey to the beginning, where the end has already been outlived. This makes for very mortal work, both confessional and consoling. And in measures that are various, but always with a strong feel for structure and, in that sense faithful to the classics, no matter the surface ease of his ‘californial texturing’. There is hardly a single poem in his selected poems that is not a praise-song received from his wisdom-school studies on the path.”
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