From the monk who sets himself on fire in a crowded intersection of Saigon ("the familiar corded tendons of his hands, become / a bracken of ashes, a carbon twine of burnt"), to the salmon run in British Columbia ("The salmon word / for home is glacierdust and once-tall trees unlimbed, / a taste, no matter where, they know"), Johnson writes of topics varied and eclectic, unified by a focus on moments both declining and revenant.
Startling and haunting, the poems delve into the ways in which these moments are transformative, beautiful and unexpected. Being eaten by a lion is a gift rather than a loss, an opportunity for grace: "Instead, focus on your life, / its crimson liquor he grows drunk on. / Notice the way the red highlights his face, / how the snub nose is softened, the lips made / fuller; notice his deft musculature, his rapture."
Lyrical and rich with visceral imagery, How to Be Eaten by a Lion lingers, exploring the world with an eye for detail and an ear for music.
About the author
Michael Johnson's work has appeared in numerous literary journals including The Antigonish Review, The Fiddlehead, The Malahat Review, PRISM International, Mid-American Review and Gargoyle. He was a finalist for Poetry magazine's Ruth Lilly Fellowship and the Bronwen Wallace Award for Emerging Writers. He was nominated for the Pushcart Prize and, in 2014, won the Dr. Sherwin W Howard Award for best poetry in Weber: The Contemporary West. He lives in Penticton, BC.