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Mosses and Lichens


Devin Johnston

Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Mosses and Lichens Download image

ISBN10: 0374538956
ISBN13: 9780374538958

Trade Paperback

96 Pages



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Not days of anger
but days of mild congestion,
infants of inconstant sorrow,
days of foam in gutters,
blossoms and snow
mingling where they fall,
a spring of cold profusion.

If a rolling stone gathers no moss, the poems in Devin Johnston’s Mosses and Lichens attend to what accretes over time, as well as to what erodes. They often take place in the middle of life’s journey, at the edge of the woods, at the boundary of human community and wild spaces. Following Ovid, they are poems of subtle transformation and transfer. They draw on early blues and rivers, on ironies and uncertainties, guided by enigmatic signals: “an orange blaze that marks no trail.” From image to image, they render fleeting experiences with etched precision. As Ange Mlinko has observed, “Each poem holds in balance a lapidary concision and utter lushness of vowel-work,” forming a distinctive music.


Praise for Mosses and Lichens

"Johnston’s seventh book, like his previous collections, is quiet, emotionally reserved and a marvel of technical prowess . . . Johnston’s poetry is admirable as much for its classical poise as for the tremors that both undermine and bolster that poise."—David Orr, The New York Times Book Review

"Attentive to the physical world and intricately wrought, Devin Johnston’s Mosses and Lichens shows a poet of fine-grained discrimination. If intentionally less lush, the play of assonance and consonance (often in iambs) is as striking yet subtle as that of Keats or Heaney."—Scott Bartley, Literary Matters

About the author

Devin Johnston

Born in 1970, Devin Johnston spent his childhood in North Carolina. His poetry books include Traveler and Far-Fetched, and his prose includes Creaturely and Other Essays. He works for Flood Editions, an independent publishing house, and teaches at Saint Louis University in Missouri.

Devin Johnston