Jim Harrison

March 28, 2016

I have never read the American poet and novelist Jim Harrison – or, to be honest, until today even really heard of him. But he has just died, and reference to this on Twitter sent me to this Paris Review interview, which is one of the best things I’ve read in ages. Some coverage makes him sound like something of a Hemingway caricature, but in the PR interview from 1986 he sounds very sane and gentle.

The reason I’m posting it here, among some beautiful remarks including that “In a life properly lived, you’re a river. You touch things lightly or deeply; you move along because life herself moves, and you can’t stop it”, are some excellent thoughts about cooking and writing:


Let me ask a question about where your passion for food and cooking enters into your life as an artist.


I think it’s all one piece. When you bear down that hard on one thing—on your fiction or your poetry—then you have to have something like cooking, bird hunting or fishing that offers a commensurate and restorative joy. It comes from that notion that the way you eat bespeaks your entire attitude toward life. Consequently it can become obsessive, especially this time of year when Guy and Russell are here, because they’re both such good cooks. And sometimes you can temporarily exhaust it, just as you can exhaust yourself with writing because you work so hard. For instance, in the last few years I’ve really tried to lighten up on this whole cooking thing when I’m at my cabin.

The whole interview is a joy with many important things for writers to read.



  1. I’ve always loved Jim Harrrison. Just take a look at him – how could you not love that face! He also had a great cure for a cold: eat a steak, drink a pint of whisky, wrap yourself in a buffalo skin and go and sleep in the snow. RIP Jim.

  2. HAHA love that Jane – might try an inner city equivalent – eat a quinoa muffin, drink chai and wrap myself in kale … hmm no, back to Jim’s remedy,

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