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Edited by Terry Sturm
Louis Johnson had many volumes of verse published over a period of forty-five years. His first work appeared in 1945 and his posthumous last poems in 1990. His constant themes include suburbia, domestic life, childhood, love (with its attendant lust) and the folly of the contemporary world. His early poems, while energetic, had a tendency to vagueness and a lack of centrality, but his later much more controlled poems have been considerably underestimated. Throughout his life he spent considerable time fostering young or neglected poets; indeed, his own poetry probably suffered from his generous spirit and support for other writers.

Johnson’s poems are often a tentative reverie, speculations about the nature of reality. Common images are windows and mirrors, openings onto and reflections on experience and being. ‘Words are bricks you throw into every discussion / hoping to break a window, make a mark / in the nervous system of identity.’ He was a strongly moral man, angry at injustice, critical of the smug and self-satisfied, but with a well-cultivated sense of humour. His poems reflect his consciousness of the absurdity of human behaviour, while the romantic in him saw the transitory nature of existence, as well as the futility of action. ‘Let me not think of these / cruel facts of life in this valley of green trees.’ And near the end, ‘A point of view; a domestic art—meals / on the table and a warm bed. We do not need large events; / a sense of history clamping its jaws.’

Paper in excellent condition.
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  • Seller location: Lower Hutt City, Wellington, NZ

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