After publishing two collections of poetry within one month of each other, West Virginia University Department of English professor James Harms will hold a reading on March 8 at 7:30 p.m. in the Gold Ballroom of the Mountainlair. This reading will be free and open to the public and will be followed by refreshments and a book signing.

The first collection, released last month, “Comet Scar,” builds on his previous six books and collects poems written for the most part since “After West,” a volume of his poems published by Carnegie Mellon in 2008. Despite its recent release, “Come Scar” has already gained appreciative advance notices.

The Charleston Gazette wrote, “Harms’ poems display an amazing fidelity to the personal here and now, and at the same time to the national history and landscape. . . . I think of Larry Levis saying, ‘To follow my imagination is my only real duty.’ This Harms does beautifully in ways that touch off possibilities in our heads as we read.”

Coming in February, Marick Press will be releasing Harms’ other new collection, “What to Borrow, What to Steal.” This is a special book for Harms because it brings together poems that he’s never been able to include in earlier books.

“These are the orphans, castoffs and runaways of my writing career,” Harms said. “They are poems that have endeared themselves to me without ever allowing themselves to be domesticated. Strangely and wonderfully, they seem completely at home together in this collection, and I’m thrilled to have them all in print at last.”

In an interview with one of his students, Harms revealed, “One of the things I like best about writing is making stuff up, but I rely on recognizable names and landscapes to create and maintain verisimilitude. Yes, my poems are often about my family and friends, but they don’t attempt to recreate specific dramatic situations. As most poets will say, I’m more interested in the truth than the facts. What happens, if I’m lucky, when I’m writing a poem is that I very quickly find myself falling into that trance that’s so necessary to creating art.”

Jim Harms is the author of seven previous books of poetry, including “After West,” “Freeways & Aqueducts,” “Quarters” and “The Joy Addict,” all published by Carnegie Mellon University Press. His awards include a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, three Pushcart Prizes, the PEN/Revson Fellowship, and fellowships from the West Virginia and Pennsylvania Arts Commissions. His work has appeared in “Poetry,” “The Gettysburg Review,” “The Kenyon Review,” “TriQuarterly,” “The American Poetry Review,” “Oxford American,” and many other journals. He was the founding director of the Master of Fine Arts Program in Creative Writing at West Virginia University, where he is currently a Professor of English.

For more information, contact Jim Harms, associate of English, at (304) 293–9720 or



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