Poetry requires stripping
to the bone--and beyond--as both
the reader and writer of it.
Please Enjoy and Share
Tracings was designed by its publisher,
Finishing Line Press.
It has sparkly end papers
and a satin ribbon bookmarker.
More reviews and information on
Click here for Carolyn's first
person essay, "Beating Time at Its Own Game."
For a growing list of links about
For a sample of
Carolyn's Short Stories.
First Poetry Chapbook
Top Ten Reads
Palms to Pines
50 Favorite Books
is a chapbook published by Finishing Line Press.
She is also the author with Magdalena Ball of the Celebration
Series of chapbooks.
Tracings is a Multi Award Winner
Military Writers Society of
America named Tracings for Excellence,
Compulsive Reader.com named Tracings to their Top Ten Reads
Dawn Colclasure named Tracings one of her
favorite books in her
Palms to Pines blog.
For an excerpt from Tracings
here for reviews on the multi award-winning poetry chapbook Tracings.
photography by art by Leora Krygier.
From Carolyn's File of
Hundreds of Poems in Waiting
This poem, a
gives readers an idea of the accessibility
for in most of my poems.
Eavesdropping at the Writers’ Fair (c)
Two words only. Bon
so lovely our language
them, our authors aspire
to deserve their
to their literary efforts.
I hadn’t heard
them since French I and II
but here, with liquid
leaves fallen at my feet, writers
at my elbow, I hear them
Repetition makes me think
a translation of “good
not up to scratch for the
of their countrymen
or Malraux, equally
for even Faulkner’s
by Francophiles once
The bookish and bogus
impressed by the echo
of vowels in their noses.
say belles lettres,
hold them in their mouths
as if they were bon
relish their crème.
We English do better with
rooted in blunt Germanic
soil. Bons and belles,
pearls, do nothing for an
that the real thing
wouldn’t do as well.
Wanted you to know that I received Tracings , have given it a
first reading, really, really enjoyed it and was moved almost to tears
by some of the pieces.
You have a lovely, natural style, a unique voice. I remember your saying
that you didn't want to be known primarily for your "promotion" book
(which is truly valuable!) but that you are a literary writer and you
hoped people wouldn't lose sight of that.
Having read your poetry, I want to read more of your writing - and I
hope you will find the time to exercise your true talent. Maddening that
having to promote one's work takes so much of our creative energy.
Look forward to seeing you before too long.
Monica (Morris), author
from Compulsive Reader.com
These are ordinary days, and ordinary
recollections, make extraordinary by the power of
Howard-Johnson’s observation and the tension between
sensation and hindsight. Peppered with imagery that is heady
and evocative, this is poetry both historical and
Reviewed by Magdalena Ball, reviewer for Midwest Review
By Carolyn Howard-Johnson
Finishing Line Press
$12, paper, October 2005
is a relatively small collection of poems--only 29 in total,
but the impact belies its size. Carolyn Howard-Johnson has
chosen well, producing a quiet and evocative collection
which goes deep under the surface of everyday life and
recollection to muse on such subjects as life, death, love,
and loss. At first glance the poetry seems light, but the
moment’s respite--a wild holly hock or dead insect on the
carpet, becomes a melancholy epiphany, looking coolly into
the fragile, tenacious nature of life:
Tracings. Echoes. Deeds done
and undone, transformed
existence, loved ones here and gone. (“An Apparition”)
The poems are heavily rooted in place and time, from the
claustrophobia of Utah in the 1940s to the lonely airspace
of a flight between Utah and Los Angeles. These are ordinary
days, and ordinary recollections, make extraordinary by the
power of Howard-Johnson’s observation and the tension
between sensation and hindsight. Peppered with imagery that
is heady and evocative, the poetry is both historical and
psychological. Howard Johnson conjures Utah during World War
Two from a child‘s perspective, uniting the dark “velvet“
night with the loss of a father, an air raid siren, a *****
cap, grosgrain ribbons and the smell of gabardine. The
impact is immediate:
Oh, nothing, an air raid
my mother answers
as if her words were lyrics
she wanted to forget.
Would the lights return
charged with that sound that split
my father’s hand from mine. (“Earliest Remembered Sound”)
Most of the poetry tends towards the iconic, full of
American symbols like Wonderbread, Lux, Barbasol, Kerr
canning jars, Keds, Barbie, Guess jeans, Chevrolet,
Hershey’s Kisses, Jell-o, or a 1940s Fostoria Bowl, each
evoking a certain time and place, and lending a concrete
visual image in the midst of introspection. The landscape is
deftly portrayed through a child’s eye, from the impact of
war on a child left behind, or the helplessness of a child
facing a lie about her parents’ divorce. The poetry manages
to be simultaneously immediate and distanced, as if we were
in the mind or heart of an older, wiser observer, at the
same time as we are experiencing the moment firsthand. It is
an eerie combination of voyeur and participant, as we watch
an older man and younger woman come together in “From the
Observation Deck,” or LA burn in “Faith in LA”:
Peaks protrude through
an undulating mix of cloud and smoke
and I, even knowing my home may be
charred timbers, see how lovely, lovely
this masked inferno is.
There is melancholy, but also a kind of muted joy, in
revisiting places, people, and times now gone. The past is a
series of sensations, images in a snapshot (“Portraits and
Poses”), or sensory impressions, which in a Proustian way,
reveal themselves only with distance. The landscape of
youth, lost innocence and beauty is mourned, but at the same
time, there is pride in wisdom and age, and the development
of a new kind of beauty:
Our observations are
time congealed; we believe our
bent perceptions, that an event begins and
ends, that time separates one from another.
I reason (if I can trust my reason still)
that my metaphors, squashed like putty,
pulled like taffy, piled line on line
in a mixing dish, transparent or not,
are clear and real today and yesterday
if only because I thought
of them that way. (“Poetry, Quantum Mechanics and Other
is a warm and wonderful collection of poems. None of the
poems are overtly ornate or rhetorical, and however
melancholy the memory. Howard-Johnson resists the urge
towards sentimentality. The poetry is always slouching
towards the bigger meaning, turning the micro perspective of
the moment into the broader macro perspective of the
poet-god. The poems are immediately accessible and will
appeal to readers from all backgrounds, but their simplicity
belies the fact that these are profound pieces, worthy of
Sona Ovasapyan, Rita Gabrielyan, Carolyn
and Christine Alexanians (l. to r.)
show California State Legislature Certificates of Recognition
at an event at the Glendale City Library
where Howard-Johnson introduced
Ovasapyan and Alexanians as emerging poets.
Garbrielyan, a young
poet, was an aide.
CAROLYN READS POETRY ON RADIO
Several radio hosts
including Lillian Brummett, Kim McMillon, and Lois P. Jones have
featured Carolyn's books and poetry readings on radio. Most are suitable
for slots in seasonal programming schedules.
MORE PUBLISHED POETRY
Copperfield Review: Poem “Peril,” 2003.
Sparks Magazine, Subtle
Tea: The Feminist Journal: Poem
“Woman’s Day:” 2003.
Yarrow Brook Review: Poem
“Where I Am,” 2002;
Villanelle “Adaptation” Sept. 2003.
Poem “Pleading for Sylvia”, March 2004.
Poem “Big Screen Snack,” May, 2004.
Long Story Short:
Poems “Bon Sai,” Jan. 2004; “Woman’s Day,” March 2004; “Shopping on
Robertson,” June 2004; Poem, “Children Today Don’t Have Enough Leisure
Time,” Nov. 2004, “Musing Over a New Calendar,” and “New Year,” Jan.
Poem “Deciphering Sound.” May, 2004.
The Pedestal Magazine: Poem “Olvera Street Tutorial.” April, 2004. Winner Readers' Award
The Journal of the Image
Warehouse: Poems “The Dangerous
Lizard of Gabon,” “Poetry by Damned,” and “Perfectly Flawed.”
Poem “Faith in LA,” spring, 2005.
Allan Hancock College, Santa Maria, CA., Poem “Bon Sai,” Annual 2005.
Literary Journal, fall 2004, poem “Shelf Life.”
Sunspinner Magazine: Poem, “Olvera Street Tutorial,” 2005
Mary, Mt. St. Mary's
College Journal, Spring 2005.
an international journal "Eavesdropping at the "Writers' Faire," July,
Poem, "Antigua's Hope," Aug. 2005.
Edited by John Newmark, "Upon Safety, Illusion and a New Way to Think,
Excerpt "Every Heard of Terezin?" 2006
Poem "The Lecture: Incomplete and Considerately Abridged,".http://www.a-pos-tro-phe.com/v2n3/thelecture.html
Excerpt from a poem "The Lecture: Incomplete and Considerately
Abridged." June, 2006.
edited by D. Herrle, Poems, "Learning About Sex When All Else Fails" and
"Another Day." Aug. 2006.
Under the Roc,
Poem, "Shelf-Life," 2007.
A Southern Journal , "Dandelions in Autumn," fall 2007.
poem, "The Fragile Art of Warfare." Nov.
Coffee Cramp; Poem "The Fragile
Art of Warfare"
Nov/Dec 2007 issue.
poetry journal, "Death by Ferris Wheel." January, 2009.
Cheese & Chocolate, Manzanita Press and Calaveras Country Humanities
Council; poem "Big Screen Snack.
poem "Endangered Species" won the
Franklin Christoph prize for poetry, 2010.
See some of
Buy Links for
Carolyn Howard-Johnson's Sharing with Writers Newsletter
and get a FREE copy of
Great Little Last-Minute Editing Tips for Writers
"I have been a professional writer 40 years, and am also a
tenured full professor of journalism. Carolyn's Sharing with
Writers newsletter is most useful for me--and for my
students. I emphasize to them that while research is 90% of
writing, and the actual writing is about 10%, there's another
100% out there called promotion. Carolyn shows numerous ways to
get the message to the mass media."
~Walter Brasch, author
to find join me on a bunch of my social media pages.
You Can Trust
Google "Winning Writers newsletter" for a great way to
keep up with poetry contests that are vetted!
The Perfect Mother's Day Gift
Emerald Then: Reflections on Motherhood is available both digitally (for
greenies who want to save paper, postage and airline fuel)
or as a lovely to have-and-hold book for those who still
have room in their hearts only for the real thing. And the
book is still no more expensive than some of the fancier
Mom's Day cards! Click the widget above to purchase.
Find at least one tip on writing, promotion, or
tech on every page of this Web site
"I loved your poem 'deja
vu?' in the latest issue of Writer's Advice/Flash section.
Breathtakingly beautiful images. I finished reading it, then
immediately read it again, to savor it.
of Write On! For Literacy
Endorsement of Carolyn's poems from an
a fan of winning lines rather than overall poems. (TRACINGS) delivers heartfuls!"
David Herrle, Editor of
Chapbooks Instead of Greeting Cards
Cover art by Vicki
Thomas, Poetry by Magdalena Ball and Carolyn Howard-Johnson
Pulse is full of poems that describe love from the eyes and
hearts of young and old. We see love in its youthful stage, stirring the
hearts of man and woman alike and tying a bond that even death cannot
break. As we continue reading, we understand that love deepens into an
awesome, but quiet joy as the couple grows older. These poems renew our
faith in love as they remind us of our own experience with this most
sought after emotion."
Lucille P Robinson for
Third in the Celebration
of Chapbooks with Magdalena Ball,
Imagining the Future is written expressly for fathers "and
other masculine apparitions."
She Wore Emerald Then is a book of Moods of Motherhood:
thirty poems by award-winning poets Magdalena Ball and Carolyn
Howard-Johnson, with original photography by May Lattanzio. A
beautifully presented, tender and strikingly original gift book, ideal
for Mother's Day or any day when you want to celebrate the notion of
motherhood in its broadest sense. Share this collection with someone
Red: Christmas Poetry for the Rational on this Web site.
is an e-chapbook and paperback
published in the time-honored
of poets everywhere.
This collection of
ecologically oriented poems traverses a wide terrain, moving
from the loss of species to the beauty of the natural world,
from drought to the exploration of alternative planets. It's
an exhilarating collection that breaks boundaries and leads
the reader deep into the personal heart of perception.
Released by award winning poets Carolyn Howard-Johnson and
Magdalena Ball to celebrate Earth Day, this is a collection
of poetry that weaves the personal with the universal.
Photograpy by Ann Howley.
“Whatever your age these
poems celebrating women will
speak to you of times to look forward to or to remember. These are not
poems to be read once. They will stay with you forever.”
~ Nancy Famolari, author.
Tracings is winner of the Military Society of
America's Award of Excellence and named to the Compulsive Reader's Ten
Best Reads of 2005
Imperfect Echoes is
Carolyn's newest poetry book. Writing Truth and Justice with Capital
Letters, lie and oppression with Small.
Cover and interior
art by Richard Conway Jackson
All proceeds go to Amnesty International
Access to Resources for Writers
Carolyn on Pinterest
Authors! I repin your
books to my boards when you repin mine to yours!
Proud to Support
World Wild Life
book of poetry
Pasadena Weekly Arts and Entertainment Section
All Proceeds to be donated to the World Wildlife Fund
Proud to be Instrumental in
Helping Other Poets
Poetry Mystique: A modern
text edited by Suzanne Lummis with commentary from the
Poems by selected students from Suzanne's
many poetry classes.