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Traveler: Poems

3.79  ·  Rating details ·  43 Ratings  ·  11 Reviews

The poems in Devin Johnston’s Traveler cross great distances, from the Red Hills of Kansas to the Rough Bounds of the Scottish Highlands, following weather patterns, bird migrations, and ocean voyages. Less literally, these poems move through translations and protean transformations. Their subjects are often next to nothing in several senses: cloud shadows racing across a

Hardcover, 67 pages
Published August 30th 2011 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux
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Jun 20, 2011 rated it it was amazing
The poems in Devin Johnston's fourth collection have some continuities with earlier work, for example the persona-mode of "The Ghostwriter" (from Sources) magics into the voice of Bonnie Prince Charles Stuart of Traveler: Poems's "The Young Pretender." And the penchant for free and indirect translation results in the superb "Nothing Song," "after" William IX of Aquitaine. The language, however, its searching out the resonance of place name, birding lore, gaelic rhoter, and other short books of t ...more
May 23, 2017 rated it liked it
Devin Johnston’s 2011 collection of poems Traveler reminds just how broadly English speakers metaphorize the experience of leaving home. Very few of the poems in the book are about actual travel. Instead they are about travelling through life, through birth, through childhood, travelling when travel is not possible, travelling beyond context, and travelling through various states of mind. Added to those are a few poems about the journeys of animals.

Given the transitory nature of travel it seems
Nov 13, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: poetry
Devin Johnston's style brings a modern voice to an older form of poetry.

He makes fantastic use of rhyme, meter, rhythm and tone.

For instance, a stanza from Nothing Song:

I wonder, do I wake
from dreams, or dream I wake?
Beneath a sheet, I shake
and clutch my heart,
though part of me - aloof, opaque-
remains apart.

The poems, like so much poetry, draws heavily upon nature. And, verily, there is much to draw from.

My favorite poems though, draw from history; Marco Polo being my favorite.

I'm not sure abo
“Traveler” is a perfect example of a poetry collection that strives to be more scientific and geographical in tone, incorporating terminology and ideas that are more “factual” to get at the abstract and subconscious. Yet it doesn’t do tis very successfully – I’d instead recommend Anand’s “A New Index for Predicting Catastrophes”, which demonstrates not only the advantage of a scientific background, but also the ability to get at the subconscious better. Johnston’s poems were much more descriptiv ...more
Jun 02, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book. Johnston's diction and form remind me of Robert Dana's poetry. My favorite is Oracle Bones, where "in subdivisions of the dead" our paper currencies burn "for otherworldly use" and "all of this world/pours into the next." I note that the natural objects in these poems make it hard to distinguish where the author is at any given time. One must derive an environment from the images, which are very sharply drawn. Consider "shadows race across,/their smooth momentum/broken only/by ...more
David Anthony Sam
Jan 02, 2015 rated it really liked it
In Traveler, Devin Johnston shows a range of formal ability including traditionally rhymed verse combined with an eye for nature and an ear for the right sound.

He sees the world in its natural and human history upwelling in geological and meteorological forces:

"In winter, clouds haul water from its source, the ocean basin, welling up by force of deep convection through the troposphere"

His range includes the imagistic and evocative, the intentionally archaic, and the sensual:

"Zipping your skirt,
Aug 01, 2011 rated it liked it
Goodreads win. Thank you. Pocket book size poetry book. Easy book to Travel with, great quick read for waiting in Doctors office or at an airport. Author has written a poetry book about places he has traveled to. As I write poetry myself, I can be very critical. Iona was my favourite, perhaps, like the author, "My heart's in the Highlands".
Patti K
Feb 21, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: poetry
This volume is one of the finalists for the National Book Critics Circle Award. They are poignantly rendered and spare, fierce poems. Ireland, family, exotic locations are a few of his concerns. I had to look up many words as his choices are sometimes unusual. But that was part of the fun for me.
A good book of poems.
Dec 28, 2013 rated it liked it
3.5. He's at his best when he has a backbone of meter behind him; I'm not so much a fan of much of his free verse. My favorites are Marco Polo, Kid, Iona, and The Rough Bounds.
Evelyn Anne
Mar 25, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Disclosure: Devin is my cousin, so I can't be sure of my judgement entirely, but honestly, I enjoyed these poems more than almost any contemporary collection I've read in years.
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