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About this poet

Jeff Hardin was born in Savannah, Tennessee. He received a BS from Austin Peay State University and an MFA from the University of Alabama.

He is the author of several poetry collections, including No Other Kind of World (Texas Review Press, 2017), which received the X. J. Kennedy Prize, and Fall Sanctuary (Story Line Press, 2004), which received the Nicholas Roerich Prize.

Of his work, Mark Jarman writes, “Hardin’s world is primarily the rural South, and his people primarily rural people with their deep and rooted knowledge.”

Hardin teaches English at Columbia State Community College and edits the online journal One. He lives in Columbia, Tennessee.


Selected Bibliography

No Other Kind of World (Texas Review Press, 2017)
Small Revolution (Alrich Press, 2016)
Notes for a Praise Book (Jacar Press, 2012)
Fall Sanctuary (Story Line Press, 2004)

Reach

I’m afraid I can’t go anywhere without stacks of books, boxes
in the trunk, a book bag over my shoulder—wherever I sit,
more within reach, just to sample a stanza, line, or word,
someone’s invocation to the color blue, another’s wandering
of fields and grief; and some have died I can’t bear losing;
in the produce aisle I hear Rilke crying out, wondering who is listening.
I am! When I touch the artichoke, Neruda’s ode has guided me.
I want to reach inside the glove compartment, hand the cop the poems
of Simic so that—parked in an alleyway, on break—he’ll hear
the voice of an insomnia, the terror of quiet sounds, how the Infinite
is a dandelion carried through bomb-embattled streets. I’m not deranged,
though like Thoreau I want to redefine economy so that an insight
has more weight than gold. Why not, at the high school football game,
read aloud a Saramago sentence with all its interruptions, feints,
and secret passageways, its wanderings downfield, its ravings at the sky
gone dark past the stadium lights. Proust has something more to say.
A treatise on the mourning dove? Of course. Why not. So be it.
Another failed peace treaty, another scandal involving high-ranking
officials—who learns from Tranströmer to see the sphinx from behind?
So much hollowness we’re carrying when sometimes thoughts can soar.
So much space between Sappho’s words in order to make us whole.
I enter the courtroom with Issa, whose grievances were many
but laid aside; because of his presence I cast my vote for the spider
clinging to the third-floor window; I forgive the bailiff the order
he keeps. The judge, with his gavel, makes a haiku of sound.
Is this my own existence, or have I found myself in others’ lives
and they in mine? If I’m only myself, I ask a little help to get from
who I am to something more than broken, something more than
nothing less than these my only questions—oh Kafka, what is
this weight upon me, enormous, flailing to touch all the corners of air?

Copyright © 2017 Jeff Hardin. Used with permission of the author. This poem originally appeared in The Southern Review, Summer 2017.

Copyright © 2017 Jeff Hardin. Used with permission of the author. This poem originally appeared in The Southern Review, Summer 2017.

Jeff Hardin

Jeff Hardin is the author of several poetry collections, including No Other Kind of World (Texas Review Press, 2017). He lives in Columbia, Tennessee.

by this poet

poem
If only each line of a poem could be its true beginning.
If only each moment could know every other moment
and we could hold them all at once the way we wish to,
the way we keep imagining we can. I don’t care
what anyone says about the impossibility, for I step
into the same moment again and again. I’ve
poem

 to Tony Earley

Strange how I remember standing on a limb
that curved out over open space that fell
away down slopes I’d never climb back out of
had I fallen. And once, when I was six,
I almost left my mother’s car—outside a bar—
because I knew the nearby bottomlands