A long-awaited first collection, from a poet whose work is set to make a profound impression, here and in his native United States. Whose name is this? In the poems of Someone Else's Name, the names of the poets - Frost, Donne, Burns, Shakespeare - converge with names from the bizarre annals of contemporary Americana - Donal Russell, Larry Walters, Dewitt Finley. Both lost and found within the book's forest of surrogate identities, its poems about other people and poems about other poems, the poet names and unnames, is named and unnamed. The first section of Harrison's book, "Songs and Sonnets," starts with nine lyrics that take their promptings from spontaneous origins, meteorological, lexical, literary and emotional. These are followed by a sequence of sonnets, "As If," in which a conventionally and unconventionally hapless protagonist - not to be identified with or distinguished from the poet - pursues an ephemeral beloved, both real and imagined, through the turns and triangulations of a love affair and the endless echo chambers of the sonnet form.
The second section, "Stories," presents a series of poems, each based in part on a strange tale taken from the daily news: a robot named Dante sent down into an active Antarctic volcano; a man in California who attached a flotilla of helium balloons to a lawn chair and shot up into the jet lanes over Los Angeles; a man in Oregon who willed that, after his death, his skin be used to bind volumes of his poetry.
Joseph Harrison is Poetry Advisor in the Advanced Writing Program of the School of Advances Academic Studies at Johns Hopkins University, and lives in Baltimore.