Dodge Poet Spotlight: Charles Johnson

Welcome to our continuing blog series here on Poetry Fridays, Dodge Poet Spotlight. We are turning the focus over to the individuals who make our programming what it is in the schools, with teachers in Spring & Fountain, and on the ground at the Dodge Poetry Festival — the Dodge Poets.

Each week, a Dodge Poet answers some questions about themselves and provides a selected poem of their own work. We hope that this will be a way for you to get to know the Dodge Poets a little better, and you can get an idea of why we love working with them so much.

Without further ado, today’s Dodge Poet is Charles Johnson.


Photo Credit: Lauren Rutten

What are you reading?
Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald

When did you first discover poetry?  What poets made you want to write poetry?
My ninth-grade English teacher pointed me to poetry after hearing my work in class. He suggested I consider using words to earn a living after high school.

Richard Hugo said we’ve written every poem we ever loved.  He was particularly proud of having written Yeats’ “Easter, 1916.”  What great poem are you proud of having written?
“Odi Et Amo” by Catullus

What is your favorite place to read?
On the front stoop of our condo.

With all the other demands and distractions in life, how do you make time for poetry?
Poetry is life and all that is. Demands and distractions are the prompts of poems.


The Doctor’s Office

I sit in the doctor’s office
waiting my turn. I’m on a gray couch
the color of the walls and floor. It’s
a shade that calms anxieties
like early-morning fog
hiding the daylight obstacles
rising to litter our lives.

I’m reading a poetry anthology
I brought. It’s a thick, unwieldy book
that fills my hands and heart
with the creations and biographies
of the famously known.

I am just a footnote in the doctor’s
office. All that sets me apart from
the other patients are the pages
I slowly flip through, out of time
with the tapping of texting
in a roomful of cell phones
reaching out for the reassurance
of familiar human contact.

Charles H. Johnson
7 November 2012

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3 Responses to Dodge Poet Spotlight: Charles Johnson

  1. Kenneth Kowalski says:

    What a great reminder!! Poetry is there every day!!! Charles builds with the words around him.

  2. Sandy Z says:

    Hi Charles–good to catch up with you courtesy of the Dodge Poets in Hot Jersey. Wish I were sitting on your stoop with you, reading or chatting over some cold beverage… Cheers,
    Sandy

  3. I like the way Charles Johnson connects the anonymity we feel in a doctor’s office with the anonymity poets often feel looking at anthologies of more “famous poets”–though, as my husband says, “famous poet” is, lamentably, an oxymoron.

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