by Marc Harshman
This collection of poetry by West Virginia Poet Laureate Marc Harshman explores the difficulty of living with an awareness of the eventual death of all living things. Each of its four sections suggests a coping mechanism for this inevitable predicament, from storytelling, to accepting darkness and death as a creative force, to enjoying disruption and chaos, and finally to embracing the mystery of life as the most triumphant story of all.
These difficulties come “not quite haphazardly” and not without a “last light”—something “beyond” and as “sweet as apples.” With these moments of grace, Harshman taps into the satisfying richness that comes from unexpected revelations, helping us rise above the fragile recesses of life and death, all while portraying the lost rural worlds of the Midwest and Appalachia in ways untouched by sentiment or nostalgia.
"To enter this work is to remain open to the haphazard, the lopsided, the fragile, and the bracing details that tell our times as we both know and fear them. Believe What You Can is an astonishing and generous book that gives a credible 'map of true witness.'" - Maggie Anderson, author of Windfall: New and Selected Poems and Dear All
"Believe What You Can overflows with rich lines and vivid images as the poet laureate of West Virginia speaks to classic concerns of loving the land, struggling to thrive, and holding on to what can be believed." Ron Houchin, author of The Man Who Saws Us In Half: Poems
"Harshman’s poetic sophistication is clear and shows the insight and wisdom of an experienced poet who treats the forces of death, disruption, and dissonance with the seriousness and humor they deserve." - Eddy Pendarvis, author of Like the Mountains of China and Ghost Dance Poems
About the author:
Marc Harshman's hosts a monthly podcast on WV Public Broadcasting called Poetry Break.
Marc Harshman is the poet laureate of West Virginia. His full-length collection, GREEN-SILVER AND SILENT, was published in 2012 by Bottom Dog Press. His fourth chapbook, ALL THAT FEEDS US: THE WEST VIRGINIA POEMS came out from Quarrier Press in 2013. Periodical publications include Shenandoah, The Georgia Review, The Progressive, Appalachian Heritage, and the Roanoke Review. Poems have been anthologized by Kent State University, the University of Iowa, University of Georgia, and the University of Arizona. His eleven children’s books include THE STORM, a Smithsonian Notable Book. His children's titles have also been published in Spanish, Japanese, Korean, Danish, and Swedish. Marc has new children’s books forthcoming from Roaring Brook/Macmillan and Eerdmans. He lives in Wheeling, West Virginia and holds degrees from Bethany College, Yale University Divinity School, and the University of Pittsburgh. He has also recently received an honorary doctorate from Bethany College in recognition of his life’s work. In honor of West Virginia’s Sesquicentennial, Marc was commissioned by the Wheeling National Heritage Area to write a poem celebrating this event and so on June 20th his poem “A Song for West Virginia” was presented in both Charleston and Wheeling as a part of the day-long festivities held that day.