James Koller

Snows Gone By

New & Uncollected Poems 1964-2002

136 pages
6 x 9 inches  



from the Author’s Note

“When I put a book of new poems together I go through the poems to determine whether their direction is consistent. Those that are out of line are left behind. The poems collected in Snows Gone By were written over a thirty-eight year period, from 1964-2002. The older poems have in common the fact that they were left out of earlier books. They were, I thought then, inconsistent with what was going on in my life or work in those periods.

Collected here, I realize, the poems together probably give a better idea of my total work than any of my other books have—they present a life & work that has been what it’s been, with little need for consistency. The François Villon ballad that provided the title to this book (from his “Greater Testament”) is immediately preceded by lines that speak of the agonies of age & death. The ballad asks what has become of many famed & beautiful women
already gone in Villon’s time, & each stanza ends with the refrain, the answer to his question, asking where the snows of yesterday have gone.

As Bill Brown once said, “I knew he was dead,
but I had to keep telling him the story, I had to keep talking to him.”


Intense and crystal clear epiphanies experienced by James Koller with his conscience and five senses deeply alert in order to capture the hidden magic and spirituality of his relationship to like: women, relatives, friends, animals and nature. The poems of Snows Gone By become solid and essential milestones that bridge time and space (they extend over thirty-eight years and at least two continents0, giving roots of consistency to his lifelongg wanderings and infusing them with a sense of peace and deliverance.
—Giulia Niccolai

Jim Koller is a wise poet. In this basket he has collected love poems, elegies for dead friends, and celebrations of the earth, the skies, the trees and the luminous animals of the wild. These poems awaken me again to my own world—the sunflowers and innias in the morning light, bird chattering in the trees and my wife bent to her readings. I allow the ghosts of dead friends and family to drift through my memory. I’ll keep this book of poems at my side for a long time.
—Bobby Byrd

“Mais ou sont les neiges d’antan” (viz. les dames du temps jadis)—young poet-thief’s simply-questioning refrain ... here honored by Jim Koller’s backward-flowing record of his own trip to the same puddle of snowmelt Villon got no farther than 500 years ago. Only those women who are as only those men, etc., among other signs of Way shown. Neiges, nuages ... farther on no farther on at all. Let’s go.
—Duncan McNaughton


In 1960 poet James Koller moved to the Bay Area from the Midwest. He was drawn to what has since become known as the San Francisco Poetry Renaissance and soon became friends with Joanne Kyger, Philip Whalen, Lew Welch, Gary Snyder, Bill Brown, and many others of the time. Since 1964 he has edited the seminal Coyote's Journal, one of the earliest publications advocating a poetics that would lead to the ecological movement. With Richard Brautigan, Koller was part of the Digger's Communication Company, distributing their free publications in Haight Ashbury. He has been a heavy traveler, criss-crossing North America and Europe, settling in Maine in 1972. Author of over 40 books of poetry, fiction, and essays, his writing has been translated into Italian, French, German, Dutch and Swedish. In recent years in Europe he has taught with German poet, Stefan Hyner, and Swedish poet, Reidar Ekner, on the Icelandic Sagas; and has also worked with the Italian Bioregional movement. He lives in rural Maine.