Blood Atlas by Lynne DeSilva Johnson, 90’s?. As in all atlases, geography is central. From Myrtle Avenue in Brooklyn in the first poem, near the Marcy housing development, to the candles melted into Himalayans, to the ride on the Hudson Line, we are reminded of the importance of place and of a cartographic approach to living and life. Gazing at a partner, the poet muses, “How foreign, the geography of another.” In the final poem Baedeker, a reference to a German publisher of travel guides, a home is viewed in geographical terms, the living room, an archipelago. The collection is rooted in a complex New York, the one found in Concrete Shadows – part whore and part dream maker, permanent as steel and fragile as snowflakes. Lullaby of Birdland declares, “Here lives possible.” Here we find “teacups of art and despair.” New Yorkers know what she means when she says,
Young pigeon city,
to thee I desperately cling
with all love’s folly.
There is a bonus in this slender volume – an essay entitled About the Trouble with Bartleby, concerning a blog Lynne maintained which led to her own press. This essay turns into an eloquent manifesto on the subject of publishing. Many will recognize the frustrating quest for a publisher in her words, “the 20thcentury capitalist, colonialist model of exhausting, expensive submission and rejection. . .has long been broken.” Instead she envisions a more collaborative and mutually supportive view of publishing. Her parting shot: “ONWARD, Humans. Be kind to each other.”