Academic journal article Chicago Review

A Note for Ronald Johnson

Academic journal article Chicago Review

A Note for Ronald Johnson

Article excerpt

I count Ronald Johnson as one of the defining peers of my own imagined company of poets, ageless and yet insistently specific to all one's life might seem to be here and now. The very title of his major long poem cycle, ARK--with its determining echoes, its senses of a contiguous, innumerable event, its measure of heart and time, all the wondrous, intimate, particularizing reflection and record--proposes the character of this work I so value. Ronald Johnson is most close to Zukofsky and Robert Duncan in this sense, that his world becomes both inside and outside, both within and without, the apparent world of our daily living. Like Duncan especially (or Blake), the poem becomes the place of responsibility and judgement as well as the most articulate compilation of the grounds of its evidence, the stuff of simple existence, which is flotsam unless there be a defining witness.

An ark to save us--or at least recall us to a music that could sing its perceptions and pleasures simultaneously. That "ARK" aboard which we all might climb, birds, beasts, and people, to set forth upon a sea of rising floods and overwhelming meanings. …

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