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.
About the Author
Kris Johnson is from America's Washington state but has lived in the UK since 2007. She received her MA and PhD in Creative Writing from Newcastle University where she has also taught and worked as a researcher. In 2019, she was awarded a Developing Your Creative Practice grant from Arts Council England. Her poems have been published in journals and anthologies, including Ambit, Hallelujah for 50ft Women (Bloodaxe Books, 2015), Poetry Ireland Review, Poetry Northwest, and Poetry London. Her debut pamphlet, Skinny Dip, was published in 2022 by Enchiridion.
"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)