Selected for the National Poetry Series by Martha Collins, Sara Eliza Johnson’s stunning, deeply visceral first collection pulls shards of tenderness from a world on the verge of collapse.
Here 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, Bone Map builds and transforms its world through a locomotive echo—a regenerative force—that comes to parallel the psychic quest for redemption that unfolds in its second half. The result is a deeply affecting composition that establishes Sara Eliza Johnson as a vital new voice in American poetry.