Bridge of the World maps multiple transits between mental, spiritual, and geographic topographies, pivoting on the experience of dislocation from Panama and Latinidad. This is a journey over bridges between inner and outer worlds, between the cosmic and the material, the past and the present, and the immediate and memory. Traversing is bound up in the alienations of migration, economic disparity, the violations of capitalism, and the cosmic betrayals in the struggle to hold onto love in the place of rage. Harrison’s is a poetics that explores psychological fragmentation as the natural condition of a life lived suspended in multiple in-betweens. Place is colossal, mundane objects swell with symbolism, time and memory warp, and plague the mind and poetry with visions. These poems are glutted with the revelation and pain that braid themselves through the poet’s living—a brave and undulating work that invites us into a love defiant and resolutely alive.
Praise for Bridge of the World
Roberto Harrison is a terrific poet. There is an underpinning of Mesoamerican shamanism to his work. Animals show up as spirit-doubles, plants dwell in their own conscious reality. William Blake’s “horses of instruction” roam the Plains as Harrison’s “horses of insight.” You never know if you are going to tip into vision or madness or some deeper state of mind. At the same time Harrison talks a modernist talk. He seems constantly in touch with Vallejo, Laura Riding, Antonin Artaud, or Garcia Lorca, the ancestral risk takers. Bridge of the World includes a poetics statement, leading us through the strange trips and wild animal speech that give Harrison his poems. This puts his earlier books in perspective, particularly culebra. Spooky, tender, brave. The poems make me feel like a citizen of the archaic, the real world where all things are dancing, loud with significance.
— Andrew Schelling
These writings surge as blinding alchemical tales, unified, by language wrought in a psychic molecular forge, their higher consciousness suffusing each phoneme, with this consciousness spontaneously rippling into lines, stanzas, whole poems, that leap into greater vision, thereby forming Roberto Harrison’s Bridge of the World. Harrison charts his own emptiness not unlike a navigator transmuting the emptiness in himself, thereby helping clarify the inner workings for each reader, as he or she faces the daunting mystery that we occupy as beings.
— Will Alexander
A book of revelation. Bridge of the World is a colossus of a poem, the bridge of North and South America, the Panama of here and the hereafter, a Darién of eternity. The frangible yet durable bridge becomes the myth, the tension between fearlessness and fearfulness, silence and noise, light and shade, imagination of the world and our place in it, an encomium to love, life and death. “Snake Vision” is a flowing breathing poetics of shifting moods responding to hard questions about psychology and history. “See it here.”
— Norma Cole
For me, Bridge of the World is a release from the ties that bind poetry to concept, expression to self, imagination to time.
— Sarah Whelan, The Common
Roberto is a minimalist in that he threads together very specific patterns that he endlessly weaves and threads together in, as he calls them, molas, after the Panamanian Kuna practice. Just infinite molas that recycle pattern-specific images like the face, numerosity, elemental forces. He speaks of these elemental forces as personhoods of the elements, such as waters, oceans, rivers, creaturely things, animal beings.
— Jose-Luis Moctezuma, Chicago Review