Bone Map: Poems

Sara Eliza Johnson (Author) Martha Collins (Notes by)

Product Details

$16.00  $14.72
Milkweed Editions
Publish Date
September 16, 2014
5.4 X 0.3 X 8.3 inches | 0.25 pounds
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About the Author

National Poetry Series and Rona Jaffe Award winner Sara Eliza Johnson has published poems in Boston Review and the New England Review, among many others publications. She is the Vice Presidential Fellow in creative writing at the University of Utah. She lives in Salt Lake City.

Martha Collins is the author of six collections of poetry and three books of co-translations from the Vietnamese. She founded the Creative Writing Program at the University of Massachusetts Boston and for ten years served as the Pauline Delaney Professor of Creative Writing at Oberlin College. Currently editor-at-large for FIELD and an editor for Oberlin College Press, she lives in Cambridge, MA.


"The territory mapped in this gorgeous book--first a forest with animals, then water and winter ice--is wracked by violence, war, and loss, with the bones and viscera of the living and dead laying claim to our attention. But it is also a world of dream and vision: 'All moments will shine if you cut them open, ' the poet says. And though the process is often brutal, as war edges toward apocalypse, then quiets to elegiac ache, a fierce beauty emerges, line by line, image by image, transforming darkness as well as light."
--Martha Collins

"Bone Map attunes us not to cosmic harmonies that remove us from the world in which we live, but to those violent facts that thrill easier orders back into the difficulty of actual existence. She asks us to enter, not to contemplate; asks us to bite, not to savor. Returning again and again to brute nodes of meaning--owl, deer, berry, blood, wound--Johnson guides us back into those primary symbols where the husk of human intelligence breaks apart, leaving only that shining germ that admits to basic needs: hunger, meaning, love, want. Poems of dark wonder result, calling back into the surface complexity of our daily lives those deeper realities of folklore and fairy tale, and the child's astonished realization, that she is--as we are--both predator and prey. And so I hear the prayer of these poems. Not deliverance. But entrance--into the dark woods, into the deep loam, where the berry bleeds, the owl calls, and the wolf still roams."
--Dan Beachy-Quick

"Here, the moon can 'roll through you like a great city before a war, ' this place where a creature newly born 'makes a thimbleful of sound, ' where 'men do not know yet what their hands will be made to do to other men.' So begins the unnerving, seemingly speechless days and nights of Sara Eliza Johnson's fierce and tender Bone Map--a collection that continues on, to haunt and reorder human experience. A much earlier world lives in these poems, and our own sad time as well. Private and oddly not private at all in her mythic feel and often through brilliant riffs of metaphor, Johnson is careful about the deep silence in things, and her direction. Which is to say, this book is a map. Carry it with you. Then open it. Let it advise and scare you again and again."
--Marianne Boruch

"Sara Eliza Johnson's Bone Map charts a dreamscape that mixes elements of folk tale into mysterious itineraries through the commingled fringes of the world of sacramental animals and a frail humankind. She writes with the sere precision reminiscent of Alaskan poet John Haines, yet with a delicacy of language and magical thought all her own. The logic in her narratives is that of dreaming--primitive, chthonic, and subtly terrifying. Hers is a cunning and dangerous poetry, deceptive in its apparent innocence, not written against the dark backdrop of identifiable horrors, but drawn from a well of the beautiful and the macabre, a crystal cup of roses dipped in the tongueblood of wolves. In all, there is the mystic vision of wintry things first seen at the cusp of spring, not yet sorted into any commonplace order. For Johnson is a builder of miraculous worlds and not their devourer. O magnum misterium!"
--Garrett Hongo