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Imperfect Echoes: Writing Truth and Justice with Capital Letters, lie and oppression with Small Paperback – August 25, 2015

3.1 out of 5 stars 8 ratings

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Editorial Reviews



Howard-Johnson's 'Imperfect Echoes', at its best, is an exact rendering of the world we imagined was imaginary. . . . The word choice is exquisite, and the attention to craft makes an artificial formlessness from the shapes of a recognizable earth. For every dream, or hope, the book has, it is able to locate its illusion long enough to play fair with its mirage. The structuring of the book allows journey its passage, and though there is a destination, the author doesn't allow the poems to hurry themselves too quickly through its lyrical foreshadowing. I admire[d] the shorter poems' placement and their detachment from residence. The standout poem for me was 'Little Red Hen and Friends', and caused me to scribble [an] evocation. Some of the lines in the book will take the reader's guts and give them to a ghost- what language do you give your echo? 


"[Howard-Johnson's] recollections may tear at your heart and mind until you come to 'The Story of My Missed Connection in Minneola.' I burst out laughing. This was pure comic relief amidst pathos."
~ Eleanor F. J. Garmarsh, author
"Carolyn Howard-Johnson is articulate, gifted, insightful, iconoclastic, and a truly impressive literary talent. Imperfect Echoes: Writing Truth and Justice with CapitalLetters, lie andoppression with Smallis an inherently fascinating, thoughtful, and thought-provoking read that is very highly recommended for community and academic library Contemporary Poetry collections . . ." 
~Jim Cox, Editor-In-Chief of Midwest Book Reviews

Reviewed by award-winning poet and 
memoirist Elizabeth Kirschner
Carolyn Howard's poems in Imperfect Echoes do articulate justice to the cleanly planed sentence carried across multiple lines. Incorrect to assume such sentences are reductive or simple. Unadorned sentences are an art, as in this one from Howard-Johnson's poem, "Television for Children in the Seventies," "she knows/Kermit as well as her Mother Goose/but mostly remembers/ body bags coming home."
A self-proclaimed literary activist, Howard-Johnson wants the slipperiness of history, its tendency to drift into the haze of forgetfulness, to regain traction and agency, to have gravitas as a loci for instruction and an insistence for change. Here's another telescopic line from "Nightmare," which begins with an apocalyptic dream wherein "Wasps sense/the smell of horror, napalm," and ends with the deftly ironic sentence, "now my grandson's computer/skull logo on the snap-top//arrives by Fed-Ex wearing a skin of Iraqi dust."
Carolyn Howard-Johnson is most effective when her decisively chosen un-grandiloquent diction is subtle with historical reference, particularly when it comes to the unenviable march of war after war, wars witnessed in her lifetime, as in the poem, "Perfectly Flawed," "I settle into my uncle's arms, he on his way to pilot B42's./Something about the Blitz, something I guess/must be related to lightning, to the undersides/of clouds tinged with fire."
Another poem, "Drumbeat," creates a staccato-rhythmic list by naming wars since the 20th century and ends by turning a question into a statement, which is one of poetry's finer devices: "I with no idea/if remembering makes/things better or worse." It mimics the way it is impossible to know what makes a sick infant feel better or worse. Possibly, Howard-Johnson is positing that our country is that sick infant.
Howard-Johnson doesn't solely address war, but allows herself to range from her native Utah to art and Background Singers as well as travel and mythology. If, as according to Williams, there is "no news but in poetry, then surely readers will find such news in Imperfect Echoes.
Elizabeth Kirschner is a Winning Writers.com North Street Book Prize award-winning author of Waking the Bones, a memoir. 

About the Author

Accepted for inclusion in "Poets & Writers" prestigious list of published poets, multi award-winning novelist and poet Carolyn Howard-Johnson is widely published in anthologies and journals including the revered "Poetry Magazine" founded in 1912.  Her multi award-winning Celebration series of chapbooks was coauthored with Magdalena Ball, owner of The Compulsive Writer review website.

Howard-Johnson's "Imperfect Echoes" was honored by Writer's Digest and she is the recipient of the California Legislature's Woman of the Year in Arts and Entertainment Award and her community's Character and Ethics award for her work promoting tolerance with her writing. She was also named to Pasadena Weekly's list "Fourteen San Gabriel Valley women who make life happen" and was given her community's Diamond Award for Achievement in the Arts. One of her poems won the Franklin Christoph poetry prize. 

The poet is also author of an acclaimed series of how-to books for writers and was an instructor for UCLA Extension's world-renown Writers' Program for nearly a decade. Learn more about all her books at bit.ly/CarolynsAmznProfile or howtodoitfrugally.com.

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