Ghost River invites readers to stare down blue-mouthed crevasses, venture into old growth forests, and peer beneath the floorboards of ancestral homesteads.
In this lyrical and intimate portrait of America’s Pacific Northwest, wilderness and home are interwoven. But this is not Arcadia. Deep time is punctured by strip malls and freeways, wildfires and dams. Questioning the influence of the past on the present, the central sequence reimagines this landscape from the perspective of the British explorer, George Vancouver, who charted its waterways on an expedition to locate the illusive Northwest Passage.
In their passage between America and England and the terrain of early motherhood, these poems of loss and renewal explore what it is to be home. Born and raised in America’s Washington state, Kris Johnson moved to the UK in 2007. Ghost River is her first book-length collection.
"Kris Johnson's Ghost River is a book full of water – from the beautiful and dangerous lakes from the landscape of childhood to the waterways mapped by George Vancouver in the late 1700s. Mapping – of space, place and connection – is abundant in these poems, which explore family history, birth and motherhood with extraordinary and tender precision of language. The natural world rises through Johnson's writing, both in real manifestations and as metaphor, and the landscape of the Pacific Northwest forms the backbone of this collection, which is both wonderful and full of wonder." – Hannah Lowe, author of The Kids (Costa Book of the Year 2021)
‘This is centred on the landscape of America’s Pacific Northwest, but it is no rural idyll: ruggedly beautiful, steeped in myth and mystery, but also dark and dangerous… Impossible to do this rich and complex collection justice in a short review: it will reward frequent rereading and group discussion.’ – Frank Startup, The School Librarian
'This debut collection is steeped in deep ecology and a fascination for the land that exists beneath naming and mapping ... These are musical, lyrical poems that evoke the majesty of landscape, the depth and power of water and invite us to stop, and look again.' - Mary Mulholland, The Alchemy Spoon