Book review: On Not Losing my Father’s Ashes in the Flood by Richard Harrison.

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On Not Losing My Father’s Ashes in the Flood – Richard Harrison (2016, Buckrider Books, Ontario)

Calgary poet Richard Harrison has carefully stitched together memory, reflection, and perspective in his newest collection On Not Losing My Father’s Ashes in the Flood (for which he won a Governor General’s Literary Award for Poetry in 2017).  The profound effects of his beloved father’s suffering and death from dementia and the loss of personal property and goods in the devastating flood of 2013 (which I write about in a post here) shape nearly all of these poems in some way, raging and trickling and dredging the reader in emotion and silt.   Accordingly, they’re not beautiful poems – they’re ragged and raw, but you can visibly feel the catharsis and healing within them.  From “Prayer”:

My father taught me the poem was a bed of gravel

the rain could not wash away….