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Where "Here" Is Hard to Say: Poems

By author: Gordon Johnston
Product Code: P680
ISBN: 9780881469080
Publisher: Mercer University Press
Availability: In stock
Price: $20.00

In the title poem of Gordon Johnston's second collection, a canoer with his keel in a quick current is too caught up in the flow of water, sunlight, and sycamore leaves to say precisely where he is on the river. He is constantly both arriving and departing, negotiating his passage through a riverscape that is as ancient as it is newborn, that is mapped and familiar but always in flux. These poems engage the losses and renewals of this flux--encounters with the "trash fish," turtles, otters, and other lives in Southern rivers and woods as well as in the wilds of West Virginia, Wyoming, and Oklahoma. In these poems, mountains, plains, and creeks--even clay, birch bark, and shelf lichens--speak. "Where Here Is Hard to Say" also applies in this collection to crossing into new, difficult human territories, "Lonely Middles" of confronting the mortality of friends and parents, letting sons and daughters grow up and away from the home, wrestling with depression, and trying to find stable footing in mid-life as the ecstatic alternates with the awful. The poems invent prayers and weapons against the doubts. Telling stories, writing letters, cutting back brush, carving canoes, listening to Wilco, the poems find fellowship in each of these acts. By turns wryly funny, rueful, awed, and nostalgic, the voice in these poems may have trouble saying exactly where it is, but it makes the reader glad to be there, too, listening. There is a hard-won wisdom in these poems, but they are never didactic or preachy. They express their insights through humble, often funny, speakers and through precise images that honor the mysteries of faith and experience. This is a book with stories to tell, visions to impart, and music to convey them memorably.
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