Aversions

Devin Johnston

Aversions

Devin Johnston

Distributed for Omnidawn Publishing, Inc.

88 pages | 5 1/2 x 8 1/2
Paper $14.95 ISBN: 9781890650162 Published June 2004
To be averse, to turn one’s eyes away, is an act that chills, suggesting not only irrevocable but also unforeseeable consequence. And what we do not see, we so often fear. In ancient Rome, rites of aversion were performed as sacred rituals. But, as Johnston explains, such "rituals involved not the invocation of heavenly spirits, but the placation of ghosts." While the poems in this collection assay a very broad range of subjects, Johnston demonstrates in all of them an awareness of what enormous challenges constitute the turning toward—or away from—the many faces of experience. And at the core of this work is an astute, passionate, empathic examination of our use of language as an active placation of ghosts. "[T]hese forms are only forms // fulfilled, as you are now // no more than this-a tone." Paradoxically, Johnston demonstrates the ways that these ghosted forms nonetheless can offer a music intensely, eerily immediate. Here the breadth and complexity of subject matter and allusion, the deftly drawn images (some in full relief, others sketched in minimal silhouette against a sharply contrasting background), the surprising alliances and complications of emotion and idea, all make it impossible for a reader to turn his or her eyes away.
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