Taylor Johnson. Alice James, $18.95 trade paper (100p) ISBN 978-1-948579-13-1
Johnson’s singular debut explores detachment and communion from a Black trans perspective. Their speakers often situate the reader in precise locations, frequently in Washington, D.C., or natural settings outside the city, where one might “[listen] for muscadines swelling in the ditches on the waterlogged sides of the highway.” Yet such locales serve as doorways into a psychic landscape that is often less certain. “Down one road in your mind you are walking alone; down another everyone is your wife,” Johnson asserts in one lyrical prose piece inspired by Miles Davis. In “Trans Is Against Nostalgia,” Johnson finds that “There is a new/ language I’m learning by speaking it.” Such language can be as seductively musical in this collection as it is analytical (“O shipmate,/ our atlas is a chasm/ of ache”). But these considerations of semiotics and meaning are grounded in experience: “Nothing is like jail. Nothing... approximates it. Nothing is like being detained, except for being detained.” Johnson makes the case that “I is a plural state/ of being,” effectively demonstrating the rewards of complexity and multiplicity in these memorable poems. (Nov.)
Reviewed on : 12/31/2020
Release date: 11/01/2020
Genre: Poetry
Book - 978-1-948579-78-0
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