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Imperfect Echoes: Writing Truth and Justice with Capital Letters, lie and oppression with Small Paperback – August 25, 2015
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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 journals and anthologies. 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. She 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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Top customer reviews
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Some of the language that really struck me were phrases such as ""Snow hums a quiet melody," and "salty clouds, sacraments in puddles beneath the tires of our aging Terraplane." These words are descriptive and paint a picture for the reader.
Carolyn Howard-Johnson has a real knock for spinning language together and telling a story in poetic form. This one is a must-read for anyone who loves poetry.
Near Jerusalem, razorwire
coils a brutal line
imposed like walls
might one day disappear.
This one much like the first wall
I unexpectedly came across somewhere
in memory, an ocean away
marking its territory
East from West, the wall
that called my husband to arms,
just in case. Another wall,
cleaves Irish from Irish. Foreign
walls, but now a new one
crawls from Baja,
through mountain passes
along the Rio Grande. Walls.
useless, unholy billboards,
anything but mending walls.
This is an understated, quiet, and therefore all the more powerful cry. It is a rejection of hate, fear of the Other, divisiveness, denial that we are all the children of One. The crying walls, what they represent, is what we need to replace with compassion and caring if we want a future for humanity, and a future worth living in.
Carolyn’s words consistently point toward the thinking humanity needs in order to be humane. She cares.
You could do a lot worse than expose yourself to the terrible danger of becoming infected with her way of thinking, her way of seeing the world. With luck, this little book will put the same poetry into your heart.
I love the theme of this collection. Carolyn looks at the broad scope of war, humanizing events, inviting us to see beyond political soundbites. We're not given a stream of violent words to spark graphic images. Her intent here is not to shock with trails of blood. Instead, we're shown what war looks like from a smaller standpoint; a child, a grandmother, a friend. We also see what compassion looks like, what real justice might feel like if we could learn to embrace our differences.
This is a beautiful collection of poems that can be read and reread many times over.
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 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.
Award-winning author of WAKING THE BONES, a memoir
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