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Latest for Eagle Pond Authors’ Series: Poet Jenny Johnson

By Mason Masotta; For the Clock
On November 11, 2017

                                                                      Courtesy Photo

Poetry has been refreshingly rampant during this semester at PSU, thanks to English professor Liz Ahl’s dedication to the art. Between the Eagle Pond Authors’ Series, and Ahl’s connections with other poets, this academic year has already held visits from three different poets for readings and books signings.

Most recently, PSU hosted award-winning poet Jenny Johnson in the Silver Center for a presentation of her new poetry book “In Full Velvet,” which came out on February 14.

Johnson holds a Bachelor’s degree in English education from the University of Virginia. And aside from her career as a professional poet, she also teaches at the University of Pittsburg.

As a powerful and outspoken member of the LGBTQ+ community, Johnson shows a full range of emotion through her work, exploring her own coming to terms with sexuality and the world’s reaction to it. There is never a hint of bitterness in her poetry, even when the world is often slow to understand; instead, a compassionate voice and joyful tone dominates the majority of her works.

“In Full Velvet” also finds its pages filled with a pantheon of animal imagery and zoology facts. Johnson compares many aspects of the human condition with that of the animal world in an almost majestic way.

One of the most interesting and compelling of her poems is entitled “Elegy at Twice the Speed of Sound.” Johnson cited her aunts as the inspiration for writing this piece by saying, “My family didn’t really talk about their love. They lived together for 50 years. Unfortunately, their deaths coincided with my coming out, so I couldn’t talk to them about it.” This poem serves as a heartwarming tale following two same-sex lovers traveling the world.

Professor Ahl has once again brought a very interesting poet with amazing work to the White Mountains. Johnson looks to teach a message to her readers about their lives and her own. One of the standout lines of her book, from the poem “Dappled Things,” offers an interesting parting thought from very early on: “What you look hard at, seems to look hard at you.”

To find out more about Jenny Johnson and her poetry, visit her website at

To keep up with other events at the Silver Center, visit

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