John Haines is well known as a writer who has communicated not only his rare experience of homesteading in Alaska, but also a view of modern society as seen from the perspective he gained there. Ever since I discovered Haines’s poetry in an anthology in the late 1980s, I have returned to it many times for its sane values and contemplative intensity. Recently I read for the first time his prose memoir The Stars, the Snow, the Fire (more memoir pieces are in the earlier Living off the Country). I was taken with his economical, clear depictions of hunting, trapping, building, and surviving in Alaska, where he lived on and off for twenty-five years, of the land and the plants and animals around him, about which he seems to know every feature, habit, and use. What a fascinating, enviable life he led at the Richardson homestead, north of Fairbanks. More.
Thursday, March 3, 2011
Alaska Poet John Haines Dead
sane man. He left much of society behind in favor of homesteading in Alaska's interior, and he wrote great poems about nature. I say that to differentiate great nature poems from great poems about nature. There are writers who show the natural world in all its magnificence (Mary Oliver, sepia-toned) but I find Haines more, well, real. Oliver's poems seem to glorify while Haines tends more to describe, and let you draw your own conclusion. This quote is from a lengthy article in the Contemporary Poetry Review.