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Home > Author > Jim McGarrah
Jim McGarrah

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  Jim McGarrah

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One Moves the reader only by clarity - Ezra Pound

Background Information

 These blurbs from my newest book will give you an idea of my background. I'm influenced by everything.

“I’m learning to keep some knowledge from myself,” Jim McGarrah writes in a poem aptly titled “The Pursuit of Knowledge,” and such gnarly wisdom infuses these poems that recognize not only the “suffering that idles in us all,” but that “What connects us is our loneliness.” As Vietnam continues to provide context for a life given over now to the privacies of love, jazz, and humor, McGarrah searches for “the single word, that one small word” that might focus his abiding grief and transform it “into the language / of air,” into an aesthetic that affirms “all things beautiful grow alone.” These poems by one who “reached out / and pulled the lightning inside” are full of such profound consequence. When the Stars Go Dark is a disturbingly beautiful book.
 Michael Waters, author of Darling Vulgarity, editor of Contemporary American Poetry
In his second book of poetry, When The Stars Go Dark, Jim McGarrah re-examines themes that have certainly become his: a youth of loss and luck, of destruction and distraction, and how, in middle age, one makes sense of this hunger to make sense. His return to Vietnam is a return to his father and to all that went askew. There is no easy closure here, yet his understanding that life survives finally on love and humor makes these poems border on what was once called wisdom. Read them and learn something wise about art and life.
Matthew Graham, author of A World Without End and 1946
From Vietnam to Biloxi to Guernica, following in the footsteps of James Wright in Anghiari or Rilke in Paris, spanning several decades, investigating the battlefields, back alleys and marketplaces that define us, Jim McGarrah’s poems are characterized by what he calls “the myth / of love that grants us grace beyond our own humanity.” In one poem a girl waves at the Luftwaffe pilot who will bomb her and her village, in another he remembers a hooker in Vietnam: in countless other poems similar characters emerge to give us back our own humanity through McGarrah’s skill at seeing the mythic and universal behind their individual situations. In one of the many moving poems here, a friend saves his life in Vietnam and he has to put the parts of his body into a body bag, and yet the scene takes on a transcendent meaning in its ending: “as the moon surrendered all its promise to the numb shadows of dawn.” Between the granting of grace and the surrendering of promise, between the silences and the music that permeate this great book, McGarrah finds a way to live “by sharing one dream from different worlds.”
Richard Jackson, author of Heartwall and Alive All Day

Main Street Rag Select Poetry Book Series Award, 2008. Finalist – Bayou Magazine Non-Fiction Contest, 2008. Nominated by the Southern Indiana Arts Council for Indiana Artist of the Year – July, 2007. Faculty Research and Creative Work Award – University of Southern Indiana, 2005. Winning Writers War Poetry Contest, finalist, October 2004, Winner – Editors Choice Award for the book Running the Voodoo Down, Elixir Press, October, 2003. Cleveland State University Poetry Center Book Contest, Finalist, April, 2002. P.E.N. International Writers Conference Fellowship - University of Ljubljana, Slovenia, 2001 Visual Media Award - Vermont College 2000 & 2001. James Hearst Memorial Poetry Award, Finalist - North American Review 2001 & 2002. American College Theater Festival Playwriting Contest - Kennedy Center 2001. Heideman Drama Award, Finalist, Louisville Actors Theater, 2001. Dean’s List - University of Southern Indiana 1997 – 2001. Writing Scholarship - Rope Walk Writers Retreat 1998, 2000, & 2001. Muriel Craft Bailey Award, Finalist - Comstock Review 1998 & 2000. Academic Achievement Award in English - USI, 1999. Poetry Award - Ohio Valley Writers Guild 1998. Advanced Creative Writing Award - University of Southern Indiana, May,1999.

Additional Information

When the Stars Go Dark poems by Jim McGarrah ISBN 13: 978-1-59948-153-1, ~78 pages, $14 * * * This book was selected for publication after finishing as a finalist in the 2008 Main Street Rag Poetry Book Award * * * Projected release date: January 12, 2009 ***Advance discount purchase price of $9 *** About the Author Jim McGarrah's first book of poems, Running the Voodoo Down won a book prize from Elixir Press in 2003. He has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and a finalist twice in the James Hearst Poetry Contest. Home Again: Essays and Memoirs from Indiana, was published in August of 2006 by Indiana Historical Society Press and his novel, Going Postal, in April, 2007. A memoir entitled A Temporary Sort of Peace, which reflects his experiences as a combat Marine in Vietnam was published by Indiana Historical Society press in August, 2007. He holds a Master of Fine Arts in Writing from Vermont College and a Master of Arts in Liberal Studies from the University of Southern Indiana. He has worked as a janitor, horse trainer, carpet layer, mechanic, school teacher, hod carrier, hay baler, and recreational therapist.

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