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Kimberly Johnson

1971–

Kimberly Johnson was born on January 9, 1971, in Salt Lake City, Utah, and holds an MA from the Johns Hopkins Writing Seminars, an MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, and a PhD in Renaissance literature from the University of California at Berkeley.

Johnson is the author of three poetry collections: Uncommon Prayer (Persea Books, 2014), A Metaphorical God (Persea Books, 2008), and Leviathan with a Hook (Persea Books, 2002).

In her review of A Metaphorical God, Lisa Russ Spaar writes, “Johnson’s poems adopt a number of their forms from mystical or sacred texts—psalms, divinations, odes, hymns, spells—but her settings are as earthbound as her own scorched backyard garden or the driver’s seat of a white pickup careering down a highway during a thunderstorm.”

A literary critic and translator as well as a poet, Johnson is also the author of the scholarly work Made Flesh: Sacrament and Poetics in Post-Reformation England (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2014), a translation of Virgil’s Georgics (Penguin, 2011), and Hesiod's Theogony and Works and Days (Northwestern University Press, 2017).

Johnson is the recipient of grants and fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, Mellon Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts, and Utah Arts Council. She teaches creative writing and Renaissance literature at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah. She lives in Salt Lake City, Utah.


Selected Bibliography

Poetry

Uncommon Prayer (Persea Books, 2014)
A Metaphorical God (Persea Books, 2008)
Leviathan with a Hook (Persea Books, 2002)

Prose

Made Flesh: Sacrament and Poetics in Post-Reformation England (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2014)

Kimberly Johnson
Photo credit: Ryan Johnson Photography

By This Poet

2

Ode on My Episiotomy

Forget pearls, lace-edged kerchiefs, roomy pleats—
this is my most matronly adornment:
stitches purling up the middle of me
to shut my seam, the one that jagged gaped
upon my fecund, unspeakable dark,
my indecorum needled together
with torquemadan efficiency.  
But O!  the dream of the dropped stitch!  the loophole
through which that unruly within might thread,
catch with a small snag, pull the fray, unknit 
the knots unnoticed, and undoily me.

Don't lock up the parlor yet; such pleasure 
in unraveling, I may take up the sharps
and darn myself to ladylike again.

Farrow

Full in the fat wallow of me,
                     Superfluity
           Even to the marrow—

Blood plumping along in a red swell
                     Of venules
           Blushing my most unabashed

Skinpatches: nosetip, earlobe, wristshallow.  O
                      This mother
            Is a crush of too-muchness,

A malady of my baffled self awash.
                      Accomplished
            Finally the days, will I find

My bones I lost, will my sharps and edges
                      Hedge this fleshy
            Habit I’ve made of excess?

Already my heartracing startles
                      In another’s
            Twitches, my dinner hiccups

Another’s diaphragm. Already and almost
                      I swear I feel
            The protein creep of me, cell

By splitting cell, into another’s life.
                     This mother-grief
            Sorrows not for the heart-close one

I’ll lose from me at my delivery
                     But for my own
            Soul overboiling, unbound, bound

To a stranger’s groans, undone by his hurts
                     And remorses
            To the third and fourth

Generations.  What I’m birthing is my own
                     Diffusion.
            Never again mere. Never again my own.

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