James Harrell February Mission

ISBN 13: 9781603060028

February Mission

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February Mission is a collected volume of poetry and plays by a man who’s spent a lifetime paying attention to his muse. As a young boy in rural Alabama, Jim Harrell was introduced to the pleasures of writing, and though he made his career as a businessman, he continued to educate himself about prosody and poetic and dramatic form, writing, always writing, as he is still.

Jim Harrell’s volume is expeditionary, ranging back in time over his own rich history, visiting places he’s been and wars he’s experienced, friendships shared and loves lost, and life on the littoral coast, which inspires much of his work and describes his emotional home. Like more famous poets before him, Harrell honors what he remembers. From the big and autobiographical, such as the book’s fine title poem about his experiences in WWII, to the intimate and slyly amusing, Harrell’s work celebrates life in reclaiming his memories about it.

The poetic and dramatic styles in February Mission are as far-ranging as the topics are broad, but throughout the author’s ear is attuned to the complexity of the human experience and our shared humanity. Harrell, though, is no pedant. When you least expect it, he turns turns cleverness to good effect and with a passing fillip reminds of the humor in a situation, bridging the distance between our histories and his and showing remarkable psychological acuity as well: “Reality, we know is fact/Love, we surmise, is fear and fun/One day life is right side up;/And one day upside down.”

In the end, a lovely balance―topical and tonal―presides over this collection of poems and plays. It’s present in Harrell’s voice, which is simultaneously wise and humble, compassionate and seductive. Wade far enough into the book, and you will experience its tidal pull, which is the author’s love of words and ideas and his hope that we too should know the pleasures which define this collection and which bespeak life on the literary coast. Maybe―you can almost hear him whisper―you have a poem or a play in you.

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About the Author:

James Harrell was born in Selma, Alabama in 1924. He flew 28 missions as a B-17 gunner during World War II. After the war, he attended the University of California (Berkeley), and did post-graduate studies at The Sorbonne. After a career with an international hotel chain, he joined his brother in a health care business. Married with two daughters, Harrell lives in Sarasota, Florida. His keen interest in the American Civil War is partly driven by the fact that his grandfather lost his right arm at the battle of Gettysburg. In 2006, Harrell announced the Jim Harrell Poetry Scholarship Awards, open to Alabama high school students. Winners will be recognized at the Mentevallo Literary Festival, held every year in April. Additionally, Harrell donated to the libraries of every Alabama high school and college, public and private, a copy of These I Would Keep, an anthology of verse by Alabama’s poet laureates, edited by Helen Blackshear, eighth poet laureate, and his Civil War novel, Their Last Ten Miles. In making these gifts to Alabama school children, Mr. Harrell shared that at the age of 12 he was encouraged by one of his teachers to study and write poetry and that doing so opened his mind and changed his life. He says he also “discovered that reading and writing poetry was fun.” Mr. Harrell said he had long wanted “to find an opportunity to encourage the interest of students in Alabama in the written word.” The creation of the poetry competition and scholarship was one step toward that goal. While working on that project, he read and was inspired by the Alabama voices represented in These I Would Keep, which led to the second part of his gift.

Review:

"February Mission is a rich and various collection of James N. Harrell's most recent poems and plays. It's wonderful to see his mature -- and lyric -- sensibility express itself in so many different ways. The poems range from the simple lyric to moving historical reference to displays of subtle wit, as in the poem entitled 'Cogito Ergo Iamb,' in which the somberness of death and erotic vitality are wonderfully mingled: 'For the iamb says it best --/When the bedsprings' peppy rhythms/Wake the dead.' What a delight!" ―Leonard Wolf, writer
"As one who all too rarely has time to venture outside of the technical literature of my specialized profession, I was overwhelmed by the way that this collection of poems and plays by James Harrell grips both the mind and the heart from the very outset. From the beginning, the reader is flown backward to a time of intense turmoil, both militarily and personally to the relentless bombing of densely population civilian areas of Germany culminating in the bombing of Dresden in February, 1942. The emotions and tears of those fliers blanket the passages as the reality of the resulting human cost emerges. Interspersed are the experiences and emotions, the serious and the light encounters of one who returns home to a life full of incredible experiences magically captured in verse. On top of this, Jim Harrell is a great storey tellers as illustrated by his three alluring and capturing plays that have something for everyone. Enjoy! I did!" ―Gary Lyman, Professor of Medicine and Oncology
"My suggestion in reading Harrell’s presentations is to NOT read sequentially through the poetry section and the plays. I would have developed my admiration for the compositions in total by first reading the foreword by Mr. Harrell’s brother, Stanley, which is essential to understanding the diverse nature of the presentations, and then proceed to the poem entitled February Mission, and then to the play entitled The Visitor. I suggest reading each of these three times, focusing on content the first time, composition including rhyme the second time, and cogitation the third. After pursuing this introductory pathway, the mental stage is set for maximum enjoyment of the remainder in total or in part. Like the best composers of music, Harrell, as a composer of poetry and prose, writes at various levels for various participants. All will enjoy." ―Robert Blizzard, Professor of Pediatrics Emeritus at the University of Virginia
"Jim Harrell’s poetry penetrates the human soul with beauty, depth and clarity. While masters of the canvas create beauty and harmony with color and shape, Jim Harrell paints nature’s complex mysteries, as in, Death of a Lizard, with words that profoundly awaken the reader’s consciousness, prompting one to ask, “What is life all about?” Harrell’s experiences and journey through life offer us, through his poetry, valuable lessons as in A Coming Together and speak to the horrors of war, as in February Mission or the Bombing of Dresden. In this book Harrell proves that he is a master artisan of words. His poetry has touched my soul and offered me hours of joy, and undoubtedly, will provide an enjoyable experience to all who read his works." ―Manoug Manougian, Ph.D., Professor of Mathematics at the University of South Florida
"James Harrell’s poetry shows his ability to make poetry from any of the varied experiences of his life and his imagination. He draws on a wide range: probing discussions with dear friends, memories of depression days in a rural area; the reactions of a dying patient to a visitor; the terror and anguish of a youthful flyer on a bombing mission, the delight of being with a lover as well as the sadness of parting; and even the wider questions raised by the death of a lizard.  In all of his poems, one is aware of his intense eye, which observes both the outer world and the landscape of his mind, translating it to us with clarifying imagery.  And all his observations are filtered through the screen of his fierce dedication to the demands of form, rhythm, and rhyme, which makes his poetic achievement even more remarkable" ―Barbara Nicholls, free-lance writer and teacher
"February Mission, a treasure of a book, exhibits the many gifts that make Jim Harrell a powerful writer .First is his mastery of language, his ability to turn words into rare combinations that produce the aha effect in the reader. A partial list of his other gifts would include his humor, his impressive talent for characterization, his sensitivity to the world around him translated seamlessly onto the printed page.( At least, he makes it seem easy as he writes poetry on many subjects.)Do read this unusual book that combines poetry and drama in 253 pages that seem much too short." ―Carolyn Fleming, author of Journey Proud, the novel,  Democracy Means Sharing and Pensacola Holidays
"Within this book's pages is the record of a writer who has lived widely and well. Haunting poems of the Second World War take their place beside love lyrics, beside fables in verse, beside meditations on home ground, on distant lands, and on the great cycle of life that permeates it all. Jim Harrell presents the hard-earned wisdom of a lifetime within these pages, and does so with admirable humility, authenticity, and good cheer." ―Jim Murphy, Associate Professor of English, Ph.D
"Everyone should be so fortunate to have an uncle like Jim Harrell. Poet, playwright, world traveler, a searching intelligent and soaring spirit, repository of the experiences of a lifetime which few can imagine. A great part of the joy in reading his poems and plays is to get an insight into the mind of a truly remarkable man. Enjoy." ―Charles Miner Harrell, Jim Harrell’s Nephew
"James Harrell continues to give us a glimpse of the remarkable journey he has lived across the 20th century.  His latest collection of poems and plays in February Mission takes the breath away as we bear witness to his remarkable word portraits filled with style, grace, and texture that seem to whisper to us from the past.  The title poem “February Mission” is one of the most powerful war poems to have come out of World War II.  The piece is a dramatic reminder of the horror of war and the price paid by both victor and victim.  Harrell has painted a poignant canvas that is a stunning contribution to our literary sensibilities.  I strongly commend February Mission to everyone, young and old.  Harrell is a master storyteller." ―Vernon Williams, Professor of History and Vice President of the Texas Oral History Association

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Book Description NewSouth Books, Albania, 2007. Hardback. Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book ***** Print on Demand *****. February Mission is a collected volume of poetry and plays by a man who s spent a lifetime paying attention to his muse. As a young boy in rural Alabama, Jim Harrell was introduced to the pleasures of writing, and though he made his career as a businessman, he continued to educate himself about prosody and poetic and dramatic form. From the big and autobiographical, such as the book s fine title poem about his experiences in WWII, to the intimate and slyly amusing, Harrell s work celebrates life in reclaiming his memories about it. Wade far enough into the book, and you will experience its tidal pull, which is the author s love of words and ideas and his hope that we too should know the pleasures which define this collection and which bespeak life on the literary coast. Maybe--you can almost hear him whisper--you have a poem or a play in you. Seller Inventory # APC9781603060028

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Book Description NewSouth, Inc. Hardcover. Condition: New. 304 pages. Dimensions: 9.1in. x 5.9in. x 1.1in.February Mission is a collected volume of poetry and plays by a man whos spent a lifetime paying attention to his muse. As a young boy in rural Alabama, Jim Harrell was introduced to the pleasures of writing, and though he made his career as a businessman, he continued to educate himself about prosody and poetic and dramatic form. From the big and autobiographical, such as the books fine title poem about his experiences in WWII, to the intimate and slyly amusing, Harrells work celebrates life in reclaiming his memories about it. Wade far enough into the book, and you will experience its tidal pull, which is the authors love of words and ideas and his hope that we too should know the pleasures which define this collection and which bespeak life on the literary coast. Maybe--you can almost hear him whisper--you have a poem or a play in you. This item ships from multiple locations. Your book may arrive from Roseburg,OR, La Vergne,TN. Hardcover. Seller Inventory # 9781603060028

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Book Description NewSouth Books, Albania, 2007. Hardback. Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book ***** Print on Demand *****.February Mission is a collected volume of poetry and plays by a man who s spent a lifetime paying attention to his muse. As a young boy in rural Alabama, Jim Harrell was introduced to the pleasures of writing, and though he made his career as a businessman, he continued to educate himself about prosody and poetic and dramatic form. From the big and autobiographical, such as the book s fine title poem about his experiences in WWII, to the intimate and slyly amusing, Harrell s work celebrates life in reclaiming his memories about it. Wade far enough into the book, and you will experience its tidal pull, which is the author s love of words and ideas and his hope that we too should know the pleasures which define this collection and which bespeak life on the literary coast. Maybe--you can almost hear him whisper--you have a poem or a play in you. Seller Inventory # APC9781603060028

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