Catalog, Collection / Friday, August 25th, 2023

The poems in Jeffrey L. Johnson’s collection, Babylon, trace paths we travel and describe places we occupy happily as pilgrims, adventurers, natives and citizens, and uneasily as refugees, captives, prisoners, and exiles. Even when we feel settled and at peace, circumstances and time move us to strange and foreign locations. These poems explore aspects of our perceptions of place.

Jeffrey Johnson’s Babylon casts upon the world the kind of compassionate attention that can raise the sensual to the level of the spiritual, the transcendent. What a pleasure to watch this magical transformation happen in poem after luminous poem. —Jay Hopler, author of The Abridged History of Rainfall 

This collection impresses as much by its range as by its many other undeniable virtues. There are poems of historical enactment beside moments of particularized tenderness. Throughout, the poems present a vision that may be called religious but one so transcendent as to make even that noble word feel reductive. —Sydney Lea, Vermont Poet Laureate, 2011-2015

Jeffrey Johnson’s poems come to us full of wonder and amazement. Peopled by Perry Como, Jesse James, Thomas Merton, and by boys in Tanzania hamming it up for the camera, they travel the world with open hands and hearts. Johnson writes, “If a plow is placed before your eyes, / step up to that plow.” He steps up to the plow that is poetry, and what a harvest he brings us! —Athena Kildegaard, author of Courses

Jeffrey L. Johnson

has written two books of poetry, two non-fiction books, and has edited Stars Shall Bend Their Voices: Poets’ Favorite Hymns and Spiritual Songs, a book of essays. He lives in Massachusetts.