Joseph Harrison, RIP

Joseph Harrison

Following a short illness, our esteemed and beloved colleague and friend Joe Harrison passed away on 13February 2024. The news has left his family, everyone who knew or worked with him, and many of those who simply admired his work shocked and deeply saddened.

Joe was one of the finest poets of his generation, the author of four marvelously accomplished  collections (Someone Else’s Name (2003), Identity Theft (2008), Shakespeare’s Horse (2015), and Sometimes I Dream That I Am Not Walt Whitman (2020). Just how good he was is attested to by the long line of people who wrote in praise of his work, among them John Ashbery, Harold Bloom, Rachel Hadas, Anthony Hecht, Edward Hirsch, John Hollander, Eric Ormsby, Mary Jo Salter, Alan Shapiro, Anne Stevenson, Rosanna Warren, Richard Wilbur, and Stephen Yenser.

Joe joined Waywiser’s editorial board a year after the press’s founding in 2003, and quickly went from being an Associate Editor to being its Senior American Editor. In due course,  he also took on the demanding role of Anthony Hecht Poetry Prize co-ordinator. His judgment, imagination, passion, tact, and chutzpah helped make the Hecht Prize the greatly valued thing it is, and played a vital role in ensuring Waywiser’s success more generally.

More than a year before he fell ill, Waywiser had drawn up plans to publish Joe’s Collected Poems, and to do so in the fall of 2025. However, after we learned of his terminal diagnosis, in the fall of 2024, we instantly rescheduled, and printed copies were available in time for Joe to see his life’s work brought together between the covers of one remarkable book.


Joseph Harrison: Collected Poems


Joseph Harrison’s Collected Poems will be published on 18 April 2024.

Waywiser’s editorial board lament the loss of their irreplaceable colleague and friend, and extend their deepest condolences to his grieving family.