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What That Pig Said to Jesus: On the Uneasy Permanence of Immigrant Life
What That Pig Said to Jesus
Philip Garrison says his book of essays is “in praise of mixed feelings,” particularly the mixed feelings he and his neighbors have toward the places they came from. His neighborhood is the Columbia Plateau, one of many North American nodes of immigration. Following a meandering though purposeful trail, Garrison catches hillbillies and newer Mexican arrivals in ambiguous, wary encounters on a set four hundred years in the making, built on a foundation of Native American displacement. Garrison is the product of the earlier surge of new arrivals: from the 1930s to the 1970s, those he calls hillbillies left such mid-nation states as Arkansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, Kansas, and the Dakotas for the West. The more recent wave, from 1990 to 2010, came mostly from the central plateau of Mexico. These are folks with whom Garrison communes in multiple ways.
“Garrison bears witness in vivid prose to the seemingly mundane, and in doing so he makes the mundane become provocative. This is a book I could read over and over and each time find new insights into the human condition.”

—Ken Lamberton, author of Wilderness and Razor Wire: A Naturalist’s Observations from Prison

“Garrison sets up vivid and powerful contrasts and comparisons, snap-shots of farflung cultures, mexicano/hillbilly, fragmented, then cohering — or beginning to cohere — in novel ways. An important, deeply knowledgeable portrait of time and place.”

—C. M. Mayo, author of Metaphysical Odyssey into the Mexican Revolution


The Permit That Never Expires
The Permit That Never Expires
Garrison is an award-winning writer and this book shows why. Warm, witty, self-deprecating, and charming (the list could go on), this collection illuminates the lives of these migrants, whether at the local food bank in Ellensburg, Washington, in the streets of Michoacán, or everywhere in between.

Anyone who wants to understand Mexican immigration should read this book -- and it's a gripping read, for Garrison is at once stylish, unusually perceptive, wryly humorous, and, above all, both compassionate and deeply knowledgeable. This is an astonishingly original and important work."

    -- C.M. Mayo, author of The Last Prince of the Mexican Empire
"Philip Garrison once again emerges as the ultimate coyote. No other author has proven as tenacious or as fearless or as open to startling invention in leading us across the desert of our nation's failure to imagine the migrant/immigrant flux from Mexico as anything but an unsolvable problem."
    -- Ann Neelson, editor of New Madrid: Journal of Contemporary Literature

Because I Don't Have Wings
Because I Don't Have Wings
For Mexican workers, the agricultural valleys of the Inland Northwest are a long way from home. But there they have established communities, settlements recent enough that it feels like these newly arrived immigrant mexicanos are pioneers, still getting used to the Anglos and to each other.
Written with irony but bursting with compassion, Because I Don't Have Wings features vivid characters, telling anecdoes, and poignant reflecions on life, unfolding an immigrant's world strikingly different from the one we usually read about. Adaptation, persistence, and survival, we learn, are traits that mexicano culture values. We also learn that, over time, mexicano immigrants don't merely adapt to the culture of el norte, they transform it.
"A book that would be vital and germane even if there weren't major debates going on about immigrant rights is Central Washington University emeritus professor Philip Garrison's eloquent Because I Don't Have Wings: Stories of Immigrant Life (University of Arizona). Underlying this account of the lives of Mexican workers doing agricultural work in the Inland Northwest is over thirty years' work on Philip Garrison'spart, researching both here and in Mexico. His commitment is further manifested in his being a cofounder of APOYO, a grassroots nonprofit that works on behalf of central Washington's mexicano communities. "In these exquisite essays somewhere between lyrics and odes -- Philip Garrison maps out the new borderlands. . . . Weaving together both testimonio and text, history and his own experience, Because I Don't Have Wings leads both mexicano and Americano towards an encounter neither counted upon. . . . Garrison is a mestizo's mestizo, a literary coyote who smuggles us across not just one but many lines."
    -- Rubén Martinez
"This book is stong and bold . . . and undeniably strange. The details of lives played out in the shadows are surreal, sometimes haunting, often deeply moving. It's an eye-opener that all Americans should read."
    -- Luis Urrea, author of Nobody's Son
"In this brilliant , original, and astonishingly intimate book, Garrison eloquently shows us that borders are not always where we think they are. Every page is both a pleasure and a surprise."
    -- C.M. Mayo, author of Miraculous Air: Journey of a Thousand Miles through Baja California, the Other Mexico

Waiting for the Earth to Turn Over
"Waiting for the Earth to Turn Over is Philip Garrison's graceful account of his slow accumulation of identity in the North American west, and reveals how the dance we learn while we are waiting for the earth to turn over is inextricably connected to our experiences in (and memories of) the landscapes we inhabit. From childhood stories set on the banks of the Mississippi to adult experiences in such places as Honduras, Mexico City, and the Pacific Northwest, provides fresh perspectives on how the myths rooted in a specific landscape inform our thinking about the land and about ourselves. Enlightening us with fresh perspective on well-known elements of the mythic West, entertaining us with anecdotes of the post-Cold War
West, Garrison reveals how history, memory and identity are interwoven as he shows us the remarkable landscape of the American West in a light both new to us and very, very old. Waiting for the Earth to Turn Over is an engaging, challenging, unusual, informative, insightful, thoughtful, reflective and one of the most memorable presentation. Highly recommended!"

    -- Midwest Book Review
     "I yearn for the days of E.B. White, the New Yorker magazine’s, and therefore the world’s, premier essayist of a half-century ago.
     But just when I fear I’ll have to be satisfied with Garry Wills and P.J. O’Rourke, along comes Philip Garrison with Waiting for the Earth to Turn Over . . .
     This is a lovely excursion into nooks and crannies of the American heartland’s past, and other distant reaches.
     Garrison recalls his college days, rock art, life in Honduras, reflections in a Missouri cemetery, and the days when buffalo wallowed on the prairie.
     Fine stuff this. The essay isn’t dead yet."
        --- David Hacker, The Small Press Review

Winner of the Associated Writing Programs Award for Creative Nonfiction.
"I love Philip Garrison's essays for what they don't know. His is an essential American voice intent on exploring a geographical -- and mental -- landscape of blurred borders and vague boundaries. Like William James, Garrison believes that 'life is in the transitions,' and at the heart of Augury is a deep intellectual respect for the interrupted moment, the quirky experience, the mysterious friendship, the observations that don't add up. These are essays in the best tradition of American reflection."
    -- Robert Atwan, Editor, Best American Essays series
"We swim in an ocean of stories, Philip Garrison reminds us. There is no other place to swim. Skeptical of easy narratives, he fashions hard ones. Never sure whether meaning can be found, he patiently hunts for it among Aztec tombs, in old newspapers, in superstitions and butterflies, in the face of his father laid out in a coffin, in the back seat of a Mexican highway patrol car, in the tales of Coyote and the search for peyote. Such a list only begins to suggest the breadth of Garrison's curiosity. Augury is proof that the peasures of reading the essay derive from and deeptn the pleasures of reading the world."
    -- Scott Russell Sanders, author of The Paradise of Bombs

Away Awhile
Away Awhile
Away Awhile was a finalist for the 1987 Pulitzer Prize in poetry.
"Ninety Seconds in a Columbia River Rest Stop"
The day after the longest day of the year,
wind measures, equally,

the fool and foreigner,
the hundred miles of cheatgrass,
the windowful of African violets,
Our Lady of Elapsed Time be with me,
No one knew whose they were
when the first words about the water
at my feet were spoken

"American Miracles" Northwest Review: Winter, 1986; named as one of 100 notable essays of 1986 in Best American Essays, 1987.
    "The Republic of Boylston." Colorado Review: Spring, 1988.
    "Two Love Scenes in Homer." Northwest Review: Spring, 1988.
    "Finding Our Lives." Puerto del Sol: Summer, 1988
    "The Tour Guide." Northwest Review: Fall, 1989; named as one of 100 notable essays of 1989 in Best American Essays, 1990.
    "Borders." Spring, Northwest Review: 1990; named as one of 100 notable essays of 1990 in Best American Essays,1991
    "Monument." High Plains Literary Review: Winter, 1990; named as one of 100 notable essays of 1990 in Best American Essays, 1991
    "Independence Day" Northwest Review: Spring, 1991.
    "Three Days in the Mexican Highlands." Willow Springs: Spring, 1991
    "Burning What We Weave.” Puerto del Sol: Fall, 199; named as one of 100 notable essays of 1991 in Best American Essays, 1992
    "Meditation." Iowa Review: Spring, 1992; named as one of 100 notable essays of 1992 in Best American Essays, 1993
    "Contextures." Southwest Review: Spring, 1992
    "Waiting for the Earth to Turn Over." Willow Springs: Winter, 1992
    "Nowhere Else." High Plains Literary Review: Winter, 1993
    "Keeping Coherence at Arm's Length." Cream City Review: Spring, 1993
    "Pilgrims." Creative Nonfiction: Fall, 1993
    "Afterimages." Northwest Review: Fall, 1993
    "Masks." Northwest Review: Summer, 1994
    "Subsong.” Georgia Review: Summer, 1994; named as one of 100 notable essays of 1994 in Best American Essays, 1995
    "The Site, The Story.” Georgia Review: Summer, 1995; named as one of 100 notable essays of 1995 in Best American Essays, 1996
    "Recognizable Outlines." AWP Chronicle: Summer, 1995
    "Eavesdropping.” Gettysburg Review: Spring, 1996; named as one of 100 notable essays of 1996 in Best American Essays, 1997
    "At the Center of the Americas.” Southwest Review: Summer, 1996
    "The Last Nuance.” Northwest Review: Summer, 1997; named as one of 100 notable essays of 1997 in Best American Essays, 1998
    "Working Wet.” Witness: Winter, 1997
    "Nobody’s Case Study.” North American Review: Fall, 1998
    "Love Stories, Exile, and the Greek-Chorus Effect." Northwest Review: Winter, 1999; named as one of 100 notable essays of 1999 in Best American Essays, 2000.
    "La Reconquista in the Inland Empire." Southwest Review: Spring, 1999; reprinted with Spanish translation in Tameme 3, 2003
    "I See These Things and Keep Quiet.” Northwest Review: Spring, 2001; named as one of 100 notable essays of 1999 in Best American Essays, 2002.
    "Miracles, Possessions.” Northwest Review: Fall, 2004

Books of Poetry
  • The Deer Paintings. Portland, Oregon: Prensa de Lagar Press, 1969. (a chapbook of 14 pp)
  • A Woman and Certain Women. Portland, Oregon: Trask House Press, 1971. (a chapbook of 32 pp)
  • Lipstick. Staffordshire, England: Grosseteste Review Books,1974
  •  Lime Tree Notes. Staffordshire, England: Grosseteste Review Books,1975. (a chapbook of 27 pp.)
  • Away Awhile. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Lynx House Press, 1985. (Away Awhile was a finalist for the San Francisco Poetry Prize and the Pulitzer Prize in Poetry.)

  • Poems of Juan Bullitta. "Salaverry Avenue," "Tailor from Lima," "Getting Here Again." Between Fire and Love: Contemporary Peruvian Writing. Portland, Oregon: Mississippi Mud Press, Fall, 1980.
  • Story by Luis Urteaga Cabrera. "A Voice in the Shadows" Between Fire and Love. Fall, 1980.
  • Selected poems of César Vallejo arranged in interview format. "An Interview with César Vallejo", Northwest Review, Fall, 1983.
  •  Short story by Heriberto Guzmán. "Wood Days." Northwest Review, Winter, 1998.
  • Short story by Raúl Mejía. “Banquets.” Mexico: A Traveler’s Literary Companion. Berkeley, California: Whereabouts Press, Spring, 2006.


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