The Caregiver: Poems

Caroline Johnson (Author)

Product Details

$16.00  $14.72
Holy Cow Press
Publish Date
May 22, 2018
5.9 X 0.3 X 8.9 inches | 0.35 pounds
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About the Author

Caroline Johnson observed both of her parents suffer crippling illnesses such as Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, and Rheumatoid Arthritis in the 15 years she spent as family caregiver. During that time she wrote poetry as a way to grieve and celebrate their lives. This book is the culmination of that effort. She has published two poetry chapbooks, My Mother's Artwork and Where the Street Ends, and more than 70 poems. Her awards include winning the 2012 Chicago Tribune's Printers Row Poetry Contest, nominations for the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net, and prizes in state and national competitions. A former English teacher, she works as an academic advisor for a Chicago area community college. One of her favorite activities in the past was watching James Bond movies with her father, who served in the U.S. Air Force as a bomber pilot during the Cold War in the 1950s as part of the Strategic Air Command (SAC). Please visit


Midwest Book Review, June 2018 forThe Caregiver, Poems by Caroline Johnson The Caregiver is the debut anthology showcasing Caroline Johnson's poetry. It includes 50 poems that were inspired by the 15 years she devoted to taking care of her aging parents. The gathering includes free verse, lyrical poems, prose poetry and some formal verse. Many of the poems won contests and have been previously published in online print journals and anthologies. The poems touch on the topic of grieving but go beyond and focus on the many difficulties a caregiver experiences (both emotional and physical) yet also recognize the spiritual gifts that come with helping a loved one. Very highly recommended for both personal reading lists and community library Contemporary American Poetry collections, the verses collected in "The Caregiver: Poems" focus on a significant issue for our times and one that will only become more important, especially as our babyboomer population continues age. 'A Mother's Love': She is sleeping and if you listen / you can almost hear her breathe. / The nurse sits her up in bed. / She winks one ey open and I feed her / a spoonful of stuffing and gravy. / With brown eyes she smiles, and the / smile lasts me the whole day -- / more than seventy-seven years, / more than one week in a hospital bed, / more than a generation, / more than the love a mother can show."

"In these fine narrative poems, Caroline Johnson dramatizes the role of caregiver to aging parents. Each poem is like a Raymond Carver short story: plainspoken tales filled with bitter ironies, moments of surprising grace, and lots and lots of heart. The Caregiver shows how much can be done with essential tales told simply, how much intensity can hide below a plain surface. Johnson has written a terrific book--an essential one--about loss and about the love and resilience that sustains us."--Dr. Tony Barnstone, author of Tongue of War: From Pearl Harbor to Nagasaki, winner of the John Ciardi Prize and the Grand Prize in the Strokestown International Poetry Festival. Professor of English and Environmental Studies Whittier College

"Heartbreaking and unforgettable, these poems confront the complex and difficult task of caregiving that requires control moderated with compassion. In unsparing language leavened with affection, Johnson speaks to those with aging parents as well as anyone facing illness or aging. An important book that takes on painful aspects with wisdom and a good heart."--Joan Colby, author of Carnival and Ribcage, winner of 2015 Kithara Book Prize

"With rare clarity, this book reveals the emotional and physical textures of caring for loved ones through a chronic illness. Caroline Johnson's deft insights, refreshing authenticity, and wisdom borne of experience converge to invite readers into her world. There, they may feel validated, learn, grow, and find joy in the hard, hard work of caring. Whether you provide care to a family member or to those you meet in your professional work, this book is an uncommon gem. I will return to it often."--Allan Hugh Cole Jr., author of Good Mourning: Getting Through Your Grief and Professor, Steve Hicks School of Social Work, The University of Texas at Austin

"In these poignant and unflinching poems poet Caroline Johnson traces her father's decline with Multiple System Atrophy and her mother's descent into dementia with tenderness, affection, and respect. The Caregiver offers a moving account of the work of living with chronic illness for both her parents and herself, remembering who they were, acknowledging the grief and defeat the caregiver often encounters, showing us how we, too, could accompany our own loved ones with a raft of old movies and honesty, patience, and humanity."--Robin Chapman, poet and author of Six True Things; Professor emerita of Communication Sciences and Disorders at the University of Wisconsin-Madison

"How difficult it is to ennoble suffering, but the poems of Caroline Johnson halo the courage of the day-to-day struggle of caregiving, the giving as well as the receiving. I'd encourage anyone in these situations (and aren't we all sooner or later?) to look to these poems for strength and hope (and, yes, even humor) in the face of the approaching inevitable."--William Greenway, Professor Emeritus of English, Youngstown State University. Author of Selected Poems, winner of the 2014 FutureCycle Press Poetry Book of the Year Award

"The Caregiver, while deeply personal, reflects the universal wonder of love, responsibility, remembrance and loss. It is deeply moving and I found myself pulled into the poet's life as I remembered mine. Thank you for the journey."--Rosemarie Cohen, Grief Counselor, Adventist St. Thomas Hospice

"It is hard to find positives in a terrible disease like neurodegeneration, when it has no treatment or cure. Caregivers often suffer as much as the patient. Caroline Johnson turns her experiences as a caregiver into moving poetry filled with keen observations, humor, and hope. Her work give us all an eloquent and inspiring expression of the triumph of hope in the face of the depredations of incurable disease. Her poetry rises to the highest standards of literature and puts into perspective our quotidian struggles with life's ordinary challenges."--Dr. Alex Klein, Vice President-Scientific Affairs, CurePSP