“I’ve stopped holding back.”


Poet JIM NASON‘s fifth collection, Touch Anywhere To Begin (Signature Editions, 2016), is hot. Not ‘trying to be hot’ on steroids, not ‘porn-talk.’ Hot. Real hot. A heat that only comes with a certain degree of risk, the unspoken communication between lovers pushing boundaries, attempting the new, paying attention to the point of entry. How one is entered.

Desire is a weed in the air as I walk today. p.16

As Carl Phillips describes in the book’s epigraph, “…the tension between how we behave and how we are expected to behave.”

Or, as a woman who came up to him at his recent Toronto launch at The Wickson Social (once the iconic Club Colby’s, then Five) said, “I was uncomfortable, but for all the right reasons.”

Tonight, like no other, sex. p.17

“I’m the one squirming,” says Jim, “but with each piece in this book I gave myself permission to just go for it. As I tell my writing students, ‘No discovery for the writer, no discovery for the reader.'”

May Sarton discovered “The more articulate one is, the more dangerous words become.” In one of his most ‘dangerous’ poems, Father’s Day, Thirteenth Avenue, two men sit on a stoop, share a sense of powerlessness embedded in the day for them both:

His honesty is fire against the slow-moving dark. His mouth is fire. His legs are fire and iron. We came to believe a power greater than us could restore us to sanity… / What’s your story? he asks. Empathy beyond his youth. Unsolicited. Uninhibited. Who hurt you? he says, reaching…

Nason plays in a field of texture and wonderment, “conscious of the why without wrecking it,” he laughs. His new articulateness he credits largely to knowing a lot more—nine books and years of practice—paying attention, and to his Thursday Night Writing Group, Maureen Hynes, Elizabeth Ukrainetz, Barry Dempster, and Maureen Scott Harris. Good company.

Besides Carl Phillips, he relishes Frank O’Hara, Ashbery, Mark Doty, Henri Cole, and considers Sue Goyette “the queen of metaphor.”

“I’ve learned to trust metaphor, intuition. To feel my spirit. I’m not buddhist, but he reminds us that life is difficult. I had some angry years. This doesn’t stop me from looking for happiness.”

A breeze makes me glad to be in my body. p.75

In his own ‘letter to [young] writers,’ Colum McCann encourages, “Go somewhere nobody else has gone, preferably towards beauty, hard beauty.”

Hard beauty. That is Touch Anywhere To Begin.

Hear JIM NASON read BLACK & DECKER and THREE SEVENTY exclusively for wQr

Photos/interview: KIRBY







4 thoughts on “Full Throttle Vulnerability

  1. Pingback: Poet’s house | Body LIT

  2. Pingback: Thursdays in October – knife | fork | book

  3. Pingback: “Tonight, like no other…” – knife | fork | book

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