ëThe title poem of Joseph Harrison's second book is a witty and headlong discussion of how one's self, if any, is constituted. We are a patchwork, it develops, and the same might be said of Harrison's book, which makes continual and expert use of Spenser, Wordsworth, Horace, Villon, and other predecessors. If this makes Identity Theft seem a three-ring circus, the important point is that Harrison is a superlative ringmaster: his book throughout is governed by that playfulness and performance which, as Frost said, are required in poetry however impassioned or serious. I found myself particularly moved by "Who They Were," which recalls the poet's mother and father in the stanza of Tennyson's In Memoriam.í ó Richard Wilbur
Joseph Harrison was born in Richmond, Virginia in 1957, grew up in northern Virginia and Alabama, and took his BA from Yale in 1979 and his MA from Johns Hopkins in 1986. His poems have appeared in various journals, amongst them The Antioch Review, Boston Review, The Kenyon Review, The Paris Review, and The Yale Review, as well as in The Best American Poetry 1998. His first book, Someone Else's Name, was published by Waywiser in the UK in 2003 and by Zoo Press in the USA, and was a runner-up for the 2005 Poet's Prize. Earlier in 2005 he received an Academy Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters.