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Archive for john haines

John Haines – A Winter Light

A Winter Light, by John Haines

We still go about our lives
in shadow, pouring the white cup full
with a hand half in darkness.

Paring potatoes, our heads
vent over a dream—
glazed window through which
the long, yellow sundown looks.

By candle or firelight
your face still holds
a mystery that once
filled caves with the color
of unforgettable beasts.


Photo below shared from Alaska Dispatch News which features a piece about writer/musician John Luther Adams and being influenced by John Haines.
J Haines JL Adams 3x2


From TWENTY POEMS, Unicorn Press, 1973

John Haines – City of Orphans

I typically read and have been influenced by John Haines nature poems and memoirs, but this poem is timeless.


How strange to think of those street
sand vacant lots, the sandhills
where we played and dug our trenches;
the forts we built, the enemies
we conjured to aim our stick-guns at,
and then went home at evening,
to victory, to safety and sleep.

And now the vast acres of rubble,
the pitched and roofless houses,
upended stonework and sunken bridges.
The dog-packs roaming, digging,
for the one still-unclaimed victim;
the stray sniper aiming at dusk,
and in the roadside fields,
flowers that explode when picked.

The children wandering from one
burned suburb to another,
seeking that which no longer exists:
a neighborhood, a playing field,
a wading pool or a standing swing;
for a kite to fly, a ball to throw,
or just one pigeon to stone.

And through all this haunted vacancy,
from cellars and pits of sand,
come and go as on a fitful wind
such whispers, taunts and pleadings:
the scolding voices of dead parents,
the lessons of teachers no longer
standing, whose classrooms
are blown to ash and smoky air.

And far-off, unheard beyond the drone
of a single hovering aircraft –
in Paris, Zurich, Prague, or London,
the murmur of convening statesmen.


From:
For the Century’s End
Poems 1990—1999
by John Haines
Seattle and London: University of Washington Press.

Author Focus – John Haines

I first learned of John Haines while taking a class at the Loft Literary Center a few years ago.  From the first poem I was hooked.  I have every book of his, some first editions, and one signed that I was fortunate to find.

Mr. Haines also wrote many essays about nature, the world at large, and his view from a small rustic cabin located outside of Fairbanks, AK.

Mr. Haines was born on June 29, 1924 and passed away on March 2, 2011. I sadly never got the chance to meet him in person, but continue to read his books and write pieces about him and be inspired by the raw, simple, and powerful pieces he created.

I am particularly fond of “Owl in the Mask of the Dreamer” for poetry and “Fables and Distances” for his essays.

Below are his most easily found books on Amazon.

Cover Title Publisher
51JKNEG1A6L._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_ The Stars, the Snow, the Fire: Twenty-Five Years in the Alaska Wilderness Graywolf Press (March 1, 2000)
41HH5DF4X9L._SY300_ Living Off the Country: Essays on Poetry and Place (Poets on Poetry) University of Michigan Press (January 1, 1982)
519H1KF17PL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_ The Owl in the Mask of the Dreamer: Collected Poems Graywolf Press; 1st edition (September 1, 1993)
51VY8F0C6ZL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_ For the Century’s End: Poems 1990-1999 (Pacific Northwest Poetry) University of Washington Press (January 1, 2001)
41IYJ6ABaDL._SY344_PJlook-inside-v2,TopRight,1,0_SH20_BO1,204,203,200_ At the End of this Summer: Poems, 1948-1954 Copper Canyon Press (September 1, 1997)
41TJ0EFWEQL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_ Fables and Distances: New and Selected Essays Graywolf Press (January 1, 1996)
51DeUhh44TL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_ News from the Glacier: Selected Poems, 1960-1980 Wesleyan (April 1, 1982)
51IZ0uavIYL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_ The Stone Harp (Wesleyan Poetry Program) Wesleyan (July 1, 1971)