One of 45 Queer and Feminist Books You Need to Read in Early 2017, Autostraddle
"In this stunningly lyrical debut, Johnson probes issues of queer culture and love from an array of existential perspectives, creating a melodic and thought-provoking symphony on queer identity.... [A] miniature opus, alternately joyful and heartrending, achingly bittersweet."
— Publishers Weekly , starred review
" In Full Velvet is a sexy, smart, ardent, often pan-species paean to love, to queerness, to daring, to poems.... This irresistible book is a crucible of sexual and artistic becoming, of personhood and identity politics, all served up with force, formal deftness...and an enviable ear for the music of weeping and laughter that suffuse all lyric poetry.... [A] truly remarkable first collection."
— Virginia Quarterly Review
"The queer and blazing ecosystem Johnson establishes situates dyke bars in forests and forests in dyke bars, under swells of gym-class parachutes, all rendered in the jazz of Johnson’s lyricism. Vociferous, deciduous, fresh, and knowing, Johnson’s poems create a space in which readers can reveal themselves and dig deep."
"Radical.... If In Full Velvet is a map of Johnson’s mind and memory, it is one worth saving. Johnson is precise with herself, patient with others. These poems celebrate the feeling of spinning in tight circles until all that is left the spiral, rushing from the inside out."
“The sheer joy of Jenny Johnson’s poems finds fuel in the work of poets she loves (Hopkins, William Carlos Williams, Larry Levis), in the wild variety revealed by botany and zoology, in the insights of queer and gender theory, in dyke bars and dancing, and most of all in love and desire — that imperative to which, directly or less so, every other element in this list is in service. When someone writes the history of American poetry in our time, the new energies released among the generation now publishing first books will be unmistakable; Johnson strides into a public space secured for her by Rich and Lorde and a host of others, and makes it brilliantly her own.”
"Maybe a voice from the ancients whispers to Jenny Johnson—Sappho or the Muse Euterpe—how to sing of love and death and joy and reality in as many registers as they come in life. Or maybe Johnson is just a genius. In either scenario (though the latter seems the obvious one) the pen of this poet flows with hard-won Old Soul ink—blood and tears and juice and kisses. This breathtaking debut is erotic, sublime, dappled and riven with ripe fruit, wild body, and full-on fauna. Lesbian literary history (and the many queer-hearted literatures that keep us alive) has a new chapter here, inscribed In Full Velvet by this magnificently gifted poet."
“Jenny Johnson describes the awkwardness and pain as well as the incalculable pleasure of living at odds with nature. Defiant, winking, and rippling with laughter, In Full Velvet walks us (in boy jeans) through a queer landscape of acrylic fur, dappled flanks, and antlers hot to the touch. This story of a “heart hunting after a body” does not promise full recovery: even better, it’s an invitation to spend a few hours in the dyke bar at the end of the world.”
“Pulsing with a formal brilliance and an idiosyncratic lyricism, these poems counter a poetics of ecological crisis by instead enacting a poetics of a shared world within which the human is one species among the species…. They pulse, too, with music and the grace of a world filled with strangeness and ardor. Johnson's diction, raucous and taut, reminds me that English is among the animal sounds we animals make. Like this, her poems enliven my seeing and my thinking about what a poem might do and what a world might be.”
“The rigor and formal poise of Jenny Johnson’s work creates an astounding emotional tension. There’s a sinuous, shape-shifting quality to this work that makes her poetic explorations of sex and selfhood all the more resonant. That subtle mastery of line and rhyme is a powerful complement to the poems’ organic commemorating, interrogating, searching. The judges were reminded of the virtuosity that characterizes a master like Elizabeth Bishop; of the profound and active depths, and how her poems ripple with need, and the desire for unity, communion, transformation.”
—Whiting Awards Committee
“Jenny Johnson is a poet of deep compassion and mesmerizing range. Her work probes the complexities of queer identity and the body, weaving in the unexpected reaches of intimacy and communion found in nature, dreams and lost family histories. The transformative power of community in the face of discrimination and intolerance is also felt throughout much of her work.”