Christopher J. Johnson. Center for Literary Publishing, $16.95 trade paper (76p) ISBN 978-1-885635-51-8
Johnson takes the title of his admirable debut collection from Walt Whitman’s Song of Myself and that influence is evident in both form and content. Like Whitman, Johnson favors first-person declarations, but his lines are shorter and more concerned with the grand subjects of gods, immortality, and the natural world. He opens by proclaiming that “we have forgot our gods” and 12 lines later thanks the cockroach for “his persistence.” Johnson knows his place on evolution’s tree, though he maligns human hubris, asking, “Are our ways less applicable to death/ than the oyster who is silent& never slanders?” The interconnectivity among humans, animals, and nature is a frequent theme, that there is “separation in nothing/ but the minds of men.” The capacity for immortality exists in the sublime notion of becoming stardust after death or haunting someone’s thoughts as “ghosts across the cranial twitch.” There is further solace in evidence of the divine; “Who but titans,” he asks, could have imagined Earth into existence, and “What bulbous chaos could shape them?” Johnson possesses an often stunning capacity for imagery (“borealis bloomed like a bruise on the sky’s face”) and employs necessarily understated rhyme. This is a lovely homage to a hero and it will be exciting to see where Johnson goes when he emerges from Whitman’s shadow. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 03/06/2017
Release date: 11/01/2016
Genre: Fiction
Ebook - 978-1-885635-52-5
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