Another Review at MyShelf.Com


by Carolyn Howard-Johnson

      "No one could call me a Carolyn-come-lately/but many did." So begins Tracings, the introspective, evocative poetry volume by Carolyn Howard-Johnson, whose poems such as "Shelf Life" (Poem of the Month, Long Story Short, March 2004) and "Olvera Street Tutorial" (Pedestal Magazine Readers Award) have touched wordsmiths and word-lovers.

You understand Howard-Johnson's success when you read phrases such as "a cloak/of burned velvet enfolds galaxies," and, "Now age obscures images, pulled taffy/whisked meringue, they melt, struggle to be named." In Howard-Johnson's poetry, you huddle beside a soldier uncle smelling of Barbasol, and experience World War II in the modern era at the War Museum in Oslo while dealing with the pangs of worry for a grandson sent off to war in Iraq. An air raid disturbs your world, your mother soothes you, and later in life, you comfort your mother in a long-term care facility, then go through your deceased aunt's books. You visit desire and watch a May-December romance on the observation deck of a ship... this is not your English professor's poetry. These are not just tracings of a life, they are life.

Poetic arcs in Howard-Johnson's story-verses often lead back to Utah, land of Howard-Johnson's novel This Is the Place", and short story volume Harkening: A Collection of Stories Remembered, but do not stop there. Howard-Johnson writes a landscape rich in emotion and significance. She muses on the written word: "Poetry. You and I touch/even though we are light years apart." This, ultimately, is poetry's essence that Howard-Johnson captures.

The Book

Finishing Line Press
April 15, 2005
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The Reviewer

Kristin Johnson
Reviewed 2006
NOTE: Reviewer and award-winning writer Kristin Johnson's books are Butterfly Wings: A Love Story, Christmas Cookies are for Giving, co-written with Mimi Cummins and Ordinary Miracles: My Incredible Spiritual, Artistic and Scientific Journey, co-written with Sir Rupert A.L. Perrin, M.D.
© 2006