‘The lost ones go over the same old ground. So many pathways, back and forth, make clear the way they came and went.’
– from “In the Woods”
Nicholas Johnson 1944 – 2019
Poet Nicholas Johnson passed away in August 2019. We at Bright Hill Press were honored to publish his book, Degrees of Freedom, and we were honored and happy that he read at Word Thursdays several times and during the Speaking the Words Festival. Nick was the consummate poet and friend to poets. His poems were published in many literature journals, and he, with his partner Maureen Holm, edited and published the online journal, nycbigcitylit.com. That publication was ahead of its time in the depth and breadth of its content, and both NYC poets and those of us from elsewhere were lucky to be included. Some comments about his work: “With metaphoric dexterity and an uncanny ability to invigorate common expressions so that they become pure poetry, Nick Johnson writes his poems with skill and candor. The opening of each poem in Degrees of Freedom parts the sky with perceptual lightning, and by the time we finish, a devastating clap of truth’s thunder rolls in, taking the poem and us by storm”– Molly Peacock. “Nicholas Johnson is a poet of incandescent wit, the kind of mordant intelligence whose first target is its own assumptions, and a strange haunted tenderness. I love his work for its dark, sotto voce originality. This is a collection that the writing community has been waiting for”-Dennis Nurkse. Nicholas Johnson’s poetry has been published in Poetry London, Poetry Wales, American Poetry Review, Shenandoah, American Letter’s Commentary, The Journal, Pivot, and the 1997 Anthology of Magazine Verse, Yearbook of American Poetry. It was my privilege to know Nick and his work. He will be missed. Write on, in your new air, Poet/Friend Nicholas!
Nicholas Johnson Reads
At Vesuvius, Mouthing Off, Critique, Life in the Slow Lane, Poor Company, Hubcap Heaven/Lost Reel II (excerpt), Facts of Life, Smoking Villanelle, Between Trains 18:00
Call for Uncollected Poems of Nicholas Johnson
Several readers at Nicholas Johnson’s memorial service read from literary journals that published his poems. There were many. Others talked of hearing his poems in workshops or at readings. Those who knew and heard Nick over the years know he had written far more poems than were included in Degrees of Freedom (Bright Hill Press, 2006). In an effort to collect some of his work, BigCityLit puts out this call: If you have any Nicholas Johnson poems, whether from journals or workshops, please send a copy to BigCityLit.com. Include a note about where you found it. In the subject line please write Uncollected Nick Johnson. Thank you.
Rosalie Calabriese, Steve Dalachinsky, Robert Klein Engler, Allen C. Fischer, Colette Inez, Nicholas Johnson, Donald Lev, Frank Simone
Bertha Rogers is a poet, translator, and visual artist who lives on a mountain in the western Catskills of New York. Her poems have been published in literary magazines and anthologies and in several collections, among them Wild, Again (Salmon Poetry, 2019), Heart Turned Back (Salmon Poetry, 2010), and Sleeper, You Wake (Mellen, 1991). Her translation and illuminations of the 95 riddle-poems in the Anglo-Saxon Exeter book were published as Uncommon Creatures (Six Swans Artist Editions, 2019).