83 Jim Harrison Quotes from the American Poet

Jim Harrison, born in 1937 in Michigan, was a celebrated American novelist and poet.

He masterfully depicted the human conflict between nature and domesticity.

“Legends of the Fall”, a narrative about a Montana family’s interwoven love and rivalry, is among his most renowned works. Harrison’s roots in Michigan shaped much of his writing.

Starting as a poet, his pieces were a unique blend of raw style and deep thought.

He ventured into novels, many focusing on themes of family, nature and sexuality.

Jim Harrison

Notably, “Dalva” introduced his first female lead. His writing also spanned into nonfiction with essays on food culture and a memoir.

Harrison joined the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 2007.

Below are some of the most popular quotes by Jim Harrison.

Jim Harrison Quotes


I can write anywhere. ~ Jim Harrison.


Fast food is zoo food. ~ Jim Harrison.


Zen is the vehicle of reality. ~ Jim Harrison.


I seek the substantial in life. ~ Jim Harrison.


We are all naturally xenophobic. ~ Jim Harrison.

What cannot be said, will get wept. ~ Jim Harrison.


Birds are poems I haven’t caught yet. ~ Jim Harrison.

Wise Jim Harrison Quotes

Death steals everything except our stories. ~ Jim Harrison.

Everybody has a gun in their car in Detroit. ~ Jim Harrison.

Beware, O wanderer, the road is walking too. ~ Jim Harrison.


Sometimes the only answer to death is lunch. ~ Jim Harrison.

A mood can be a mud puddle to be jumped over. ~ Jim Harrison.

Success and money can really be quite blinding. ~ Jim Harrison.

Life is an honor, albeit anonymously delivered. ~ Jim Harrison.


I rarely read or buy a book because of a review. ~ Jim Harrison.

In 20,000 walks you’re bound to learn a little. ~ Jim Harrison.

Profound Jim Harrison Quotes

I’m not rational enough to be a good journalist. ~ Jim Harrison.

The reason to moderate is to avoid having to quit. ~ Jim Harrison.

How could all this happen when there was an ocean? ~ Jim Harrison.


The days are stacked against what we think we are. ~ Jim Harrison.

I’d rather get a brain tumor than go back to teaching. ~ Jim Harrison.

Being a writer requires an intoxication with language. ~ Jim Harrison.

We set this house on fire forgetting that we live within. ~ Jim Harrison.

I’m hoping to be astonished tomorrow by I don’t know what. ~ Jim Harrison.


I write novellas because I don’t like loose sprawling prose. ~ Jim Harrison.

The answer is always in the entire story, not a piece of it. ~ Jim Harrison.

Famous Jim Harrison Quotes

I had let my disgust with teaching ruin my love of literature. ~ Jim Harrison.

You don’t have to become what you already are, which is a relief. ~ Jim Harrison.

When we die we are only stories in the minds of others, I thought. ~ Jim Harrison.

I don’t see gender as the most significant fact of human existence. ~ Jim Harrison.

It takes a long time for a father to drive the love out of a child. ~ Jim Harrison.

Fishing makes us less the hostages to the horrors of making a living. ~ Jim Harrison.

My advice is, do not try to inhabit another’s soul. You have your own. ~ Jim Harrison.

No one else can hold your hand or take this voyage of the soul for you. ~ Jim Harrison.

That’s my only defense against this world: to build a sentence out of it. ~ Jim Harrison.

Top Jim Harrison Quotes

How wonderful it was to love something without the compromise of language. ~ Jim Harrison.

New Yorkers are mostly interested in New York – in case you haven’t noticed. ~ Jim Harrison.

I got $30 from Nation magazine for a poem and $500 for my first book of poems. ~ Jim Harrison.

One thing that has gone wrong in America is the general acceptance of bad ham. ~ Jim Harrison.

Because most writers have totally unrealistic concepts of how publishing works. ~ Jim Harrison.

I thought, frankly, that it would be more pleasant to write a memoir than it was. ~ Jim Harrison.

Yeah, but now suddenly – you know, universities are notoriously market oriented, too. ~ Jim Harrison.

It is easy to forget that in the main we die only seven times more slowly than our dogs. ~ Jim Harrison.

I don’t know what psychotherapy does. I have been seeing the same person for 26 years now. ~ Jim Harrison.

A poet must discover that it’s his own story that is true, even if the truth is small indeed. ~ Jim Harrison.

Great Jim Harrison Quotes

Animals spend a lot of time being still so when we do they lose their logical mistrust of us. ~ Jim Harrison.

I hadn’t noticed the green of summer enough and now the colors were gray and white and black. ~ Jim Harrison.

Poetry at its best is the language your soul would speak if you could teach your soul to speak. ~ Jim Harrison.

Naturally we would prefer seven epiphanies a day and an earth not so apparently devoid of angels. ~ Jim Harrison.

The head’s a cloud anchor that the feet must follow. Travel light, he said, or don’t travel at all. ~ Jim Harrison.

I’ve never felt influenced by Ernest Hemingway though I suppose there is something inevitable there. ~ Jim Harrison.

I see more genuine sociability between the races in Mississippi than I see in Michigan. No question. ~ Jim Harrison.

The world that used to nurse us now keeps shouting inane instructions. That’s why I ran to the woods. ~ Jim Harrison.

Barring love I’ll take my life in large doses alone – rivers, forests, fish, grouse, mountains. Dogs. ~ Jim Harrison.

You touch things lightly or deeply; you move along because life herself moves, and you can’t stop it. ~ Jim Harrison.

Thoughtful Jim Harrison Quotes

Strangely, when I totally emerged from this slump I couldn’t comprehend how I had almost drowned it it. ~ Jim Harrison.

I’m actually forced to write about Michigan because as a native of that state it’s the place I know best. ~ Jim Harrison.

I enjoy about 1 out of 100 movies, it’s about the same proportion to books published that I care to read. ~ Jim Harrison.

Michigan is two radically different places – the North and the South which makes for good drama and contrast. ~ Jim Harrison.

Fate has never ladled out hardship very evenly, and this frequently trips our often infantile sense of justice. ~ Jim Harrison.

Dad said I would always be high minded and low waged from reading too much Ralph Waldo Emerson. Maybe he was right. ~ Jim Harrison.

Writing as a woman presents enormous problems but I have attempted it several times and haven’t had many complaints. ~ Jim Harrison.

Marriage is survived just on the basis of ordinary etiquette, day in and day out. Also cooking together helps a lot. ~ Jim Harrison.

That is simply the most beautiful publishing office in the world, with that cranky old building in that wonderful park. ~ Jim Harrison.

The wilderness does not make you forget your normal life so much as it removes the distractions for proper remembering. ~ Jim Harrison.

Powerful Jim Harrison Quotes

I would rather give full vent to all human loves and disappointments, and take a chance on being corny, than die a smartass. ~ Jim Harrison.

I can maintain my sense of the sacredness of existence only by understanding my own limitations and losing my self-importance. ~ Jim Harrison.

There is nothing so immediately rewarded in American life, in the arts or anything else, as a shrill and limited consciousness. ~ Jim Harrison.

When we were children we were errant enough to wish to be birds for the day but there’s nothing easier to lose than playfulness. ~ Jim Harrison.

We Americans are trained to think big, talk big, act big, love big, admire bigness but then the essential mystery is in the small. ~ Jim Harrison.

So when I made some money, I didn’t have any idea how one handled such a situation because no one in our family ever had any money. ~ Jim Harrison.

After a lifetime of world travel I’ve been fascinated that those in the third world don’t have the same perception of reality that we do. ~ Jim Harrison.

Nothing on my trip thus far was as I expected which shows you that rather than simply read about the United States you have to log the journey. ~ Jim Harrison.

The only advice I can give to aspiring writers is don’t do it unless you’re willing to give your whole life to it. Red wine and garlic also helps. ~ Jim Harrison.

The simple act of opening a bottle of wine has brought more happiness to the human race than all the collective governments in the history of earth. ~ Jim Harrison.

Meaningful Jim Harrison Quotes

We think of life as solid and are haunted when time tells us it is a fluid. Old Heraclitus couldn’t have stepped in the same river once, let alone twice. ~ Jim Harrison.

There is a neurologist, a woman over at Harvard who wanted me to come talk to them, and in France I have a lot of readers in the sciences. I can’t tell you why. ~ Jim Harrison.

Some of our strangest actions are also our most deeply characteristic: secret desires remain weak fantasies unless they pervade a will strong enough to carry them out. ~ Jim Harrison.

I asked a French critic a couple of years ago why my books did so well in France. He said it was because in my novels people both act and think. I got a kick out of that. ~ Jim Harrison.

Life is sentimental. Why should I be cold and hard about it? That’s the main content. The biggest thing in people’s lives is their loves and dreams and visions, you know. ~ Jim Harrison.

One of the curious effects of a bad hangover is that you think you’re wrong whether you are or not. Not wrong in particulars, but wrong in general, wrong about everything. ~ Jim Harrison.

The old fun thing is when somebody typed up the first chapter of War and Peace. And then made a precis of the rest of it and sent it out and only one publisher recognized it. ~ Jim Harrison.

I was on the verge of jumping into one of those holes in life out of which we emerge a bit tattered and bloody, though we remain sure nonetheless that we had to make the jump. ~ Jim Harrison.

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Chandan Negi
Chandan Negi

I’m the Founder of Internet Pillar - I love sharing quotes and motivational content to inspire and motivate people - #quotes #motivation #internetpillar