“This remarkable style, more like a rapid telephone conversation than like anything transcribable on a page, vivifies poems into a flashing strobe-light flicker of the mind…Judith Johnson has... [continued in Reviews below]”—Helen Vendler, The New York Times Book Review
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Reviews / Endorsements
“This remarkable style, more like a rapid telephone conversation than like anything transcribable on a page, vivifies poems into a flashing strobe-light flicker of the mind…Judith Johnson has a more primitive grip on some instinctual and pre-intellectual babble of language, so that a clear helter-skelter spring of bubbling sounds waters her poems, as if in some pure obbligato the poems were accompanying themselves on a lute.” —Helen Vendler, The New York Times Book Review
“This writing moves instantly to confront the presumptions and complex orders our experience. Its scale and courage are deeply attractive, and the wedding of too often opposed rhetorics, scientific and poetic, is in itself an achievement that merits respect.”—Robert Creeley
From the Book:
Her warmth had fllen on silence, in spite of all promises...
rank after rank they bled, according to their caste
each rank a source for the next f savage harvest
the sun didn't break on Her ees in a newborn crest
of light, the moon wouldn't turn back to guide the night
with its gentleness, the earth hadn't come to rest
under Her feet like a ship lighting on its right
harbor, tied up safe in its slip as She waited.
None of them had heard. The heaviness had not been made light,
the low not raised igh, the crooked by nomeans straightened,
the starved who were always with Her got no bread
from the bloated, the poor who had followed Her to the gate
no passage. The lind, the halt, the lame, those whose red
ulcers oozed, whose rags sucked at their sores,
the brute surivvors who stood emptily as the dead,
burning for violence/ found no healing. Once on the far shore the srongest turned/ back to the next Mother's son who
new scapegoats, fresh blood-lettings, and more ---
cities cleansed of the weak-willed. Nobody went about Her
- from "Magna Matter"
JUDITH JOHNSON is the award-winning author of six books of poetry and one of short fiction. She is Associate Dean in the Women's Studies and graduate writing programs of the State University of New York at Albany.