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In the Land We Imagined Ourselves (Carnegie Mellon Poetry Series) Paperback – January 19, 2010

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Product Details

  • Series: Carnegie Mellon Poetry Series
  • Paperback: 88 pages
  • Publisher: Carnegie Mellon University Press; 01 edition (January 19, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0887484964
  • ISBN-13: 978-0887484964
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 6.2 x 0.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,631,223 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


Panoramic in sweep and tender in spirit, these poems whirl us across many American landscapes and zoom us into many lives—from Wyatt Earp’s wife’s to that of a grieving son. Johnson is a generous pathologist of the human heart who is careful to leave its mystery intact.

From the capital I of fenceposts to articulate crags

and the bird-like swoops of human talk, I love the

intelligent landscape this poet invents and perpetuates just ahead, as if from a car eternally heading west. Like Hugo’s Marginal Way, Jonathan Johnson’s Upper Peninsula, his Idaho and Montana and Washington are really a brimming interior life, and these poems so often descriptive of motion and traveling enact the irresistible turns of a mind ever lively and shimmering.

About the Author

Jonathan Johnson is the author of the book of poems Mastodon, 80% Complete and the memoir Hannah and the Mountain. His poems have appeared in Best American Poetry, American Poetry: The Next Generation, and numerous other anthologies, as well as Southern Review, Ploughshares, North American Review, and Prairie Schooner. He is on the faculty of the Inland Northwest Center for

Writers, the MFA program at Eastern Washington University. Johnson divides his time between Washington, a cabin in Idaho, and the Lake Superior coastal town of Marquette, Michigan.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Amy Henry TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on September 19, 2010
Jonathan Johnson has created an unusual collection of poetry, one that goes against much of the stereotypes of modern poetry. This is a man's man, a tough guy, so to speak, who writes about tangible things rather than transitory concepts or feelings. My first reaction, about one-third into it, was to stop and see if he has other works to read (yes!). It's that good. My second reaction was that this is something my poetry-hating boys would actually read, and enjoy.

He talks about nature and beauty, especially in Idaho, but mingles in the unexpected: the B52s, Art Garfunkel's hair, tattoo parlors, logging, fathers, sons, and cars.

From Third Street and the Stolen Boat:

Lampposts tattoo the short shadows of objectivity onto concrete.

Luminescence pierces the lip of every overhanging leaf.

The last of August, sunlit chill breeze and constant sparkle of university traffic again.
A skateboard double clacks the coronary insistence of adolescence...

A longer poem, a masterpiece entitled American Ballad, tells the imagined story of Josie and Wyatt unorthodox retelling that plays with the concept of violence on and off the Frontier.

In New You, New Me, he speaks to his daughter Anya, in a poem she will surely treasure, where he recounts his teenage glory days but reveals the greater joy he's found, one that transcends youth:

May you too know singing along with the windows down,

air through your hair,

and the blossoming conviction that someone should be getting this on film.

...Go ahead, make yourself a self you'll be nostalgic for,

and may someone come and rescue you

the way you rescued me, on the pillow beside you telling my story...
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