Biography of Michael Harmon
I began writing poems in my 6th grade class, when I was in love with my teacher, and discovered that appearing not to pay attention would land me in detention with her after school. However, my muse has been fickle: she stays for one year, then stays away for two.
Writing poetry seems to be like any other art, if you want to get better at it:
1) learn the discipline of the art;
2) study the masters;
3) read contemporaries;
4) experience life;
5) find ways to tap into your unconscious;
6) respect yourself and others;
7) compose works;
8) NEVER, NEVER, NEVER believe that EVERY poem you write is good, let alone great.
For me, good poetry has 4 M's: Music, Myth, Magic and Mystery; take away any of these and the poetry is less than it could be. Each of those terms begs the question, though, and I can't give simple answers at this point.
So, yes, I do believe there is good and bad poetry. However, good poetry is not always easy to identify; for example, sometimes I may miss important aspects of a poem. In contrast, bad poetry tends to be easier for me to identify; for example, it lacks one, or more, of the 4 M’s, or displays an emotional immaturity (if the poet is an adult, that is, adolescents and those younger I would give special dispensations) , or a lack of command of the English language on the part of the poet.
My advice for anyone who wants to use end-rhyme (which I often use) : be where you're going before you get there.
Also, I do sincerely believe that, no matter who the audience ultimately turns out to be, first and foremost, one should write for oneself. If it gets disseminated to a wider audience, great.
I like what Howard Nemerov said when he was asked what one of his poems meant: 'You never ask a poet what he means, you tell him.' (Mary Kinzie, A Poet's Guide to Poetry, The University of Chicago Press,1999)
I also like what Wallace Stevens said: 'All poetry is experimental poetry.'
Received a B.A. in English Literature from Long Island University in 1973. Moved from New York to Arizona in 1980, when I was 28. Received a B.S. in Computer Information Systems from Arizona State University in 1983.
Married and divorced twice, I have three sons, who also reside in Arizona.
Self published three chapbooks (one with two other poets) .
Favorite poems: 'The Song of Wandering Aengus' (W. B. Yeats): 'Wynken, Blynken, and Nod' (Eugene Field) (although I changed 'mother' to 'father' when I used to read this to my boys at bedtime, lol): and
'Orpheus Alone' (Mark Strand) .
Others in the top ten: 'Ears in the Turrets Hear' (Dylan Thomas) , 'The More Loving One' (W. H. Auden) , 'Human Condition' (Thom Gunn) , 'The Black Swan' (Randall Jarrell) , 'All In Green Went My Love Riding' (ee cummings) , 'Merlin Enthralled' (Richard Wilbur) .
Other poetic influences (besides the poets above) : William Empson, E.A. Robinson, John Crowe Ransom, Theodore Roethke, Karl Shapiro, A.R. Ammons, Emily Dickinson, Wallace Stevens, Conrad Aiken, Galway Kinnell.
Favorite painters: Van Gogh, Edward Hopper, Georgia O'keefe.
Favorite book: One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish (Seuss) .
Michael Harmon's Works:
Chapbooks: Flowers for the Crone, Gallery of Days Past, Variations
Michael Harmon Poems
Book Of Leaves
It was an autumn project every year when I was still too young to wonder why I could not understand the reason for collecting leaves to paste them in a book.
1 A job worth doing is worth doing well echoed down from parents like a knell.
Book Of Leaves
It was an autumn project every year
when I was still too young to wonder why
I could not understand the reason for
collecting leaves to paste them in a book.
We took a long drive to a country place
where a book of leaves began when you were young.
The desperate colors, amazingly profuse,
graced the ground and limbs where leaves clung.