2010 Title » Poetry
In the Land We Imagined Ourselves
Jonathan Johnson is a poet unafraid to seek wisdom, even as the bewilderment of longing floods like shadows—or perhaps light—into every day. We are alive now, these poems remind us. In response to that beautiful and difficult truth, Johnson offers the sincerity of his fullest attentions and speaks in a voice as fluent in the intricacies of consciousness as it is in the tender directness of elegy. In this new collection, imagination is a migratory instinct that leads across a vast home range of shorelines, northern forests and companionable sidewalks. Traveling these rich physical territories and correspondent territories of the human heart with Johnson, the reader finds ample reason for gratitude and the grace to inhabit the moment as it passes away.
Jonathan Johnson is the author of the book of poems Mastodon, 80% Complete and the memoir Hannah and the Mountain. His poems have appeared in Best American Poetry, American Poetry: The Next Generation, and numerous other anthologies, as well as Southern Review, Ploughshares, North American Review, and Prairie Schooner. He is on the faculty of the Inland Northwest Center for Writers, the MFA program at Eastern Washington University. Johnson divides his time between Washington, a cabin in Idaho, and the Lake Super ior coastal town of Marquette, Michigan.
From the capital I of fenceposts to articulate crags and the bird-like swoops of human talk, I love the intelligent landscape this poet invents and perpetuates just ahead, as if from a car eternally heading west. Like Hugo's Marginal Way, Jonathan Johnson's Upper Peninsula, his Idaho and Montana and Washington are really a brimming interior life, and these poems so often descriptive of motion and traveling enact the irresistible turns of a mind ever lively and shimmering.
I prize Jonathan Johnson's stunning new collection, In the Land We Imagined Ourselves, and I believe in the lives found here. Garrulous yet reverent in voice and rich-to-brimming with nearly unassimilable experience, in our inhospitable times this book is truly a sanctuary.
I love the blasting, rock and roll energy in Jonathan Johnson's poetry, and the scope of its historical vision, as in "American Ballad," which recounts the life of Wyatt Earp and his wife, Josie, long after the O.K. Corral, as they travel from the Yukon to Los Angeles, searching for a home. These poems, likewise, wander in search of permanence amid a transient culture, journeying restlessly across western American landscapes on voyages of exploration and selfhood. Though it is tinged with sorrow, In The Land We Imagined Ourselves makes me glad of heart—makes me, in Johnson's better words, "happy to be hungry in the oh so cinematic air."
To purchase In the Land We Imagined Ourselves by Jonathan Johnson, please contact our distributor, University Press of New England toll free at 1-800-421-1561 or by fax at 1-603-448-9729. The book is also available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and other fine retailers.
To request a copy for review, please contact the Carnegie Mellon University Press Editorial Offices at (412) 268-2861 or by email at CarnegieMellonUniversityPress@gmail.com.