About the book:
“The temporal and rhetorical richness of Eleanor Johnson’s glorious debut volume, The Dwell, provides the foundation for a collection of incredibly eloquent raptures. In diverse modes and from various perspectives, they play on the confluent sonic and semantic possibilities of the book’s title-as an encrypted well and welling up (which the language of this beautifully cadenced poetry does abundantly); as a lingering and abiding (and from the very beginning of this book the poetry establishes itself as a manifestation of a continuum); as an abode and an awaiting (which the poetry, resonant with longing, embodies as a corpus in thought, in dance, in daily life). This is a carefully conceived and yet utterly fulsome exploration of joie de vivre, experienced as a challenge, a complexity, and an expressive pleasure. This is an amazing book.” -Lyn Hejinian, author of Slowly, My Life, Happily, Saga/Circus, and The Fatalist on section one, “The Solomon Psalm”
“That this is a poetry collection everywhere marked by its author’s other vocation as literary critic is a strength rather than an aridity or confusion of modes. A sustained meditation on the reciprocal “possession”of reading by writing and writing by reading, this manuscript’s ambitious project is nothing less than a drama of the historical sense, one put on not by an arranger of citations but by a tactician of persona, engaging literary and theological culture via re- and reoccupation… Another way to say this is that the poems dramatize the necessity of inhabitation, attachment to a site, but also the only partial and therefore repeatable and fungible nature of such attachments. The Reader-Poet-Critic is formed in the margin of the archive, always somewhat other to that with which she joins. This activity and its products are relentlessly, brilliantly figured throughout the poems.” -Geoffrey G. O’Brien, author of Green and Gray, and The Guns and Flags Project.
“Eleanor Johnson’s poetry offers the wisdom of close observation. Revelling in subtle permutation, and foreswearing generalisation and shorthand, Johnson seeks, and most often locates, the right word or phrase, through patient enumeration, sorting, sifting. This process of searching is often spatialized, as the poet navigates systems, working her way through labyrinths, along shadowed corridors, and down city streets. Johnson’s poems respond to an ambitious range of referents—the Song of Songs, Le Corbusier, Richard Serra, Mark Morris—and The Dwell’s greatest strength arguably lies in cross-disciplinary exploration, as Johnson demonstrating confidently what poetry takes from and can offer to the practices of architecture, dance, sculpture. As one might expect from work that mines such diverse sources and disciplines, Johnson’s words are in turns measured, tender, cerebral and ferocious.” -Sarah Ichioka, Director, London Architecture Foundation