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Binding: Paperback
ISBN: 978-1-57131-469-7
Pages: 80
Publish Date: September 2014
Genre: Poetry

Bone Map


BY Sara Eliza Johnson

Sara Eliza Johnson’s stunning, deeply visceral first collection, Bone Map (2013 National Poetry Series Winner), pulls shards of tenderness from a world on the verge of collapse, where violence and terror infuse the body, the landscape, and dreams: a handful of blackberries offered from bloodied arms, bee stings likened to pulses of sunlight, a honeycomb of marrow exposed. “All moments will shine if you cut them open. / Will glisten like entrails in the sun.” With figurative language that makes long, associative leaps, and with metaphors and images that continually resurrect themselves across poems, the collection builds and transforms its world through a locomotive echo—a regenerative force—that comes to parallel the psychic quest for redemption unfolding in its second half. The result is a deeply affecting composition that will establish the already decorated young author as an important and vital new voice in American poetry.



  • Read about the reason Martha Collins chose Bone Map for the National Poetry Series.

  • Read an interview about the cover design process from Mary Austin Speaker.

  • Listen to Sara Eliza Johnson read from Bone Map at AWP 2014.



Editorial ReviewGoodreads Review

“Johnson's poems, like light, clarify even as they pierce.”

Publisher's Weekly

“[Johnson's] spare, versatile diction gives these slender poems the intractable grip of a sudden riptide. Each one vivisects its subject to better appreciate its force of beauty, its startling nature, with novel grace and curiosity.”

Dave Wheeler, Shelf- Awareness

Bone Map makes words said, and heard, for the first time. Who believes that young poets cannot be Masters? Each poem is a new backdrop for matters of interest – mostly of love – new circumstances – sometimes surreal – each page an index of bright beautiful language.”

Washington Independent Review of Books

"The territory mapped in this gorgeous book—first a forest with animals, then water and winter ice—is wracked by violence, war, and loss, with the bones and viscera of the living and dead laying claim to our attention. But it is also a world of dream and vision: 'All moments will shine if you cut them open,' the poet says. And though the process is often brutal, as war edges toward apocalypse, then quiets to elegiac ache, a fierce beauty emerges, line by line, image by image, transforming darkness as well as light."

—Martha Collins, author of Day Unto Day and Blue Front

"This book is a map. Carry it with you. Then open it. Let it advise and scare you again and again."

—Marianne Boruch, author of The Glimpse Traveler and Grace, Fallen From

"Johnson attunes us not to cosmic harmonies that remove us from the world in which we live, but to those violent facts that thrill easier orders back into the difficulty of actual existence. She asks us to enter, not to contemplate; asks us to bite, not to savor."

—Dan Beachy-Quick, author of Wonderful Investigations and A Whaler's Dictionary

"Sara Eliza Johnson’s Bone Map charts a dreamscape that mixes elements of folk tale into mysterious itineraries through the commingled fringes of the world of sacramental animals and a frail humankind. She writes with the sere precision reminiscent of Alaskan poet John Haines, yet with a delicacy of language and magical thought all her own. Johnson is a builder of miraculous worlds and not their devourer."

—Garrett Hongo, author of Coral Road


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Sara Eliza Johnson

Sara Eliza Johnson is one of the most promising young poets at work today. Bone Map is her first book.

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