Twelfth in the Mountain West Poetry Series, edited by Stephanie G’Schwind & Donald Revell

In his first collection of poems, &luckier, Christopher J Johnson explores the depths to which we can know our most intimate friends, habits, and—even more so—selves. From a mosaic of coffee cups, dinner engagements, razors, walks around his city, and the wider realm of nature, the poet continually asks to what degree our lives can be understood, our joys engaged with, and our sorrows mitigated. In a voice that is at once contemporary and yet almost primal, these poems seek an affinity with the natural world, the passing of history, and the deepness and breadth of ancestry; they do not question the mystery of life, but ask rather how we have become separated from and might return to a more aware place within the frame of it.

“In this debut collection, Christopher J Johnson lasers into the maze of the self, ‘little but stickish bones, a scarecrow / puffed-up w/ rags, smoking at the mouth.’ There’s a little bit of the Modernist in Johnson’s work: he offers us inward lyrics, full of psycho-philosophic intensity, with a Poundian sense of the literary past informing every poem. His images are rich, and his sounds are lush and lodge in the ear, as when he writes, ‘godlet ants in their Herculean tasks / &the porcupines smooth in their wombs.’ Johnson sounds like no one else writing today. His gift is lyric, pure and fine.” —Dana Levin

“Rooted in a Whitmanic vision where ‘there is separation in nothing / but the minds of men,’ the speaker in these poems broods, probes, and deepens the mystery of existence. Some of these poems unfold slowly ‘like a bruise on the sky’s face,’ while others snap with visual precision: ‘The moth floundered in the warm dust / while the black widow boxed the locust. Christopher J Johnson’s &luckier is a book of marvels.” —Arthur Sze

Christopher J Johnson lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where he provides narrative content and live performances for the Meow Wolf art collective’s immersive 3D art installations. He also writes for and is manager of photo-eye Bookstore and is a book critic for the C-File Foundation. His poems have appeared in West Branch and the American Poetry Review. He is from Madison, Wisconsin.