Pamela A. Harrison is an award-winning poet and educator with a catalog of work stretching back more than five decades. Much of Ms. Harrison’s work is autobiographical or inspired by her personal and family history, and she began writing at an early age. She started experimenting with poetry following her mother’s suicide attempt, and continued to find her voice in poetry as a teen, building on the strong literary education she received beginning in seventh grade. Exposed to a broad range of books, from paperback mysteries to Shakespeare, Ms. Harrison developed a strong belief in the power of writing as an avenue to share experiences, values, and “help us learn to be human and learn what is important.”
Ms. Harrison attended Smith College, earning a Bachelor of Arts in English literature in 1968. She began teaching English at the Beaver Country Day School in Brookline, Massachusetts, the same year, and would remain at the school until 1971, when she married her late husband Dennis, a physician for Project Hope. Over the next decade, Ms. Harrison and her family traveled the world for her husband’s assignments, including stays in Finland, remote towns and villages in the Canadian Arctic and Central America, and a year on a Caribbean island with their 8 year old daughter, Katherine.
While traveling, Ms. Harrison recognized that she was able to create something unique by writing about their experiences and the people and places that they encountered as a part of their service. Their time in the Caribbean inspired “Glory Bush and the Green Banana,” a collection of poems centered on her memories and emotions of the island that was published in 2017. Ms. Harrison returned to the United States in the early 1980s and continued her education at Vermont College, where she was awarded a Master of Fine Art in poetry in 1983.
She returned to teaching as an instructor of English literature, poetry, and creative writing for the University System of New Hampshire in 1988, and was named the winner of the Panhandler Chapbook Competition the same year. In 1995, Ms. Harrison became an adjunct instructor in the creative writing department of Dartmouth College, where she would teach until her retirement in 2011. During this time, Ms. Harrison published several volumes of poetry, including “Stereopticon” in 2004; “Okie Chronicles” in 2005, a tribute to her mother’s parents; and “Out of Silence” in 2009, a memoir in verse of her parents’ love story. She was awarded the 2002 Northern New England Discovery Poet Award, and has been presented with the Albert Nelson Marquis Lifetime Achievement Award in recognition of her literary accomplishments.
More recent works have included “What to Make of It” in 2012, and the upcoming “Pamela Harrison’s Greatest Hits,” a collection of works from 1981 through 2000. Currently, Ms. Harrison is working on a book of poems titled “Widow,” about the loss of her husband shortly before their 45th wedding anniversary. Ms. Harrison considers her marriage and family to be her greatest points of pride, and feels that her poetry career and her completed works are gifts. She attributes her success to her love of the English language and the exceptional education she received, and plans to continue writing for years to come.