Snows Gone By
New & Uncollected Poems 1964-2002
6 x 9 inches
from the Authors 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 havethey present
a life & work that has been what its 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 Villons time, & each stanza ends with the
refrain, the answer to his question, asking where the snows of yesterday
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
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 worldthe 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.
Ill keep this book of poems at my side for a long time.
Mais ou sont les neiges dantan (viz. les dames du
temps jadis)young poet-thiefs simply-questioning refrain
... here honored by Jim Kollers 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.
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.