Selvage

Overview

Threaded with the colors and textures of the small-town South, this startling first collection by Donna Johnson opens up a world of unwashed secrets and messy truths, the sometimes unflattering iterations of “self” that emerge as a lifetime unspools. Through voices both imagined and real—“part cottonmouth; the other part, lark”—Johnson peoples this collection with debutantes, bigots, and busybodies, comprising a whole both shameless but often hidden, like selvage itself, “dense as nuclei / a dot for each color of...
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Overview

Threaded with the colors and textures of the small-town South, this startling first collection by Donna Johnson opens up a world of unwashed secrets and messy truths, the sometimes unflattering iterations of “self” that emerge as a lifetime unspools. Through voices both imagined and real—“part cottonmouth; the other part, lark”—Johnson peoples this collection with debutantes, bigots, and busybodies, comprising a whole both shameless but often hidden, like selvage itself, “dense as nuclei / a dot for each color of the cloth / visible only if rent.”
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What People Are Saying

Jendi Reiter
“Selvage, a precise yet uncommon word, refers to the self-finished edge that keeps fabric from fraying. Like that cloth, the girl-turned-woman we follow through these electrifying poems must weave strong edges for herself to keep from being pulled apart by others’ desires. She flirts dangerously with alternative selves—the prostituted woman, the fierce nun—to understand her body’s potential as it chafes against the proprieties of Southern white girlhood. Selvage sounds like salvage, too, the hardscrabble work of children seeking nourishment and mementos from the wreck of their past. Every poem digs up treasures of insight, words pungent as the air outside the tannery, ineradicable artifacts like the bullet in a slave woman’s unearthed spine—not always comfortable to contemplate, but satisfying as only the truth can be.”
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780887485626
  • Publisher: Carnegie-Mellon University Press
  • Publication date: 2/12/2013
  • Series: Carnegie Mellon Poetry Series
  • Pages: 96
  • Product dimensions: 5.30 (w) x 8.30 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author

DONNA JOHNSON grew up in Tennessee, but now lives with her family outside of Boston. Her poems and reviews have been published or are forthcoming in Birmingham Poetry Review, Blue Unicorn, Café Review, Green Mountains Review, Marco Polo, Perihelion, Tulane Review, Two Rivers Review, and others. In 2010 she won Cutbank magazine’s annual poetry contest and was a finalist for the Patricia Dobler Award. She currently works in the educational software publishing field.
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Table of Contents

DOGWOOD WINTER
The Enslaved Sister of My Imagination
The brief occasion of my father’s happiness
Portrait of an Artist as a Twelve Year Old
Notions
Photograph of My Father at Six
Stephens, Georgia
Wait
The Children of Sheriff Wilfred Hunnington Speak
White
Tennessee Walker
Cousin Jesse’s Annual Checkup
Eve Gets a Makeover
Streptococcus Pneumoniae
Yellow Is the Color of West Texas
Field Trip to Andrew Jackson’s Hermitage, 1969
Heirloom
Dogwood Winter
SELVAGE
On being mistaken for a whore in a laundromat, Pensacola Florida, July 12, 1979
The Summer You Told Me I Was Beautiful
Einarsson
Cinderella
Bell’s Palsy
Paean to the Opiate
Dejeuner sur l’herbe
The More Dangerous Amusement
Chew
Liver’s Retort
She Dreams of Four Ways Around Her Dilemma
Other Means Having Failed
Ritual
Selvage
PASSIONAL
Peine forte et dure
Che gelida manina
Cave
The Plot in North Village
Anniversary
Promise, No Pinky Cross
I have no ideas, but I do have some things
Kneeling Under Sky, Against Which, The Clouds
Cosmology
Subtext of the Latest Rejection
Michelangelo’s Eves
Antiphon
Locus
Lazarus
Cassandra at Dinner
Relations
Anniversary
Passional
Bee Balm
From stars
The Child in Wonder Falling on Grass
Notes
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