Praise

Advance Praise for A Crooked Door Cut into the Sky:

“A Crooked Door Cut into the Sky is shot through with loss, with the ways our bodies fail us, and with what we can’t—or don’t—say. The speakers are daughters, wives, not-mothers, and they occupy domestic spaces in which ‘nothing is missing.’ Indeed, everything is present in Melissa Fite Johnson’s elegiac collection, even the empty spaces: a remembered father, the children not to be born, the past that is at once long-gone and not gone at all.”
—Maggie Smith, author of Good Bones and The Well Speaks of Its Own Poison

“Melissa Fite Johnson’s A Crooked Door Cut Into the Sky is like a poetry photo album where poems appear like perfect snapshots of a life being lived. Johnson’s poems question what it means to be human—what we hold onto and what we let go. The narrative beauty of these poems lead us into a garden where branches quilt patterns into the sky—the possibility of becoming a parent and the experience of losing one. This chapbook grounds us in the past and present and connects the two worlds—leaving me thankful for this poet who opens the door for us to walk into her poems and join her.”
—Kelli Russell Agodon, author of Hourglass Museum and Letters from the Emily Dickinson Room

For While the Kettle’s On:

While the Kettle’s On openly, whimsically and originally explores homecoming, whirling its journey through past generations, the present body, making home, unmaking the self, and everyday love. This strong first collection lands on what is, and what is behind what is, from the tree in the present that will one day be gone, to the grandmother once young, choosing ‘this future, this little life.’ Melissa Fite Johnson helps us see the large world encapsulated in the gestures and glances of even the smallest moments of this little or big life, including what losses damage even fresh air and what graces give us back all we are. In essence, the whole collection is about love, and how to recognize it when it shines through the moments that matter.”
—Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg, 2009-13 Kansas Poet Laureate

“Melissa’s poems are at turns delightfully romantic (think Nora Ephron, think Say Anything) and mournfully elegiac, never letting us forget, even in the domestic bliss of the evening walk, that we are as mortal and frail as the trees and flowers around us.”
—From the book’s introduction by Laura Lee Washburn, author of This Good Warm Place and Watching the Contortionists

“Reading While the Kettle’s On, one feels invited into Melissa Fite Johnson’s family. Like a good novel, Johnson’s poems bring us into her world, and readers come to know her the way we know a close relative or good friend: sharing times of joy and loss, sharing life-changing events (deaths, romance, and marriage) and the small day-to-day details (a garden of hydrangeas or eating hot dogs at a baseball game) that make our lives most truly our own. Each poem is well-crafted and enjoyable on its own, but the true pleasure is in the way the book as a whole draws us vividly into a community of family and friends and, most of all, into the mind of a poet who reveals a full range of human emotion, from happiness to sorrow and from nagging self-doubt to quiet confidence.”
—Christopher Todd Anderson, former Poetry Editor for The Midwest Quarterly

“I have been reading Melissa’s poetry—one poem every other Sunday—for more than a decade now, with pleasure, and with admiration for her dedication, artistry, and skill. I suspect she is her own toughest critic, and that is how it should be. She’s good: her word choices are good, her lines lean, no lardy modifiers. She’s a poet. I’m glad to have her as a friend.”
—Roland Sodowsky, author of AWP Award Winner Things We Lose

For Ghost Sign:

Ghost Sign delivers exactly what its title promises — a public palimpsest in which the past is movingly legible. These poets sing Southeastern Kansas in a rich and complex four-part harmony that’s both dirge and love song, haunted by loss and heartened by what endures.”
—Eric McHenry, Poet Laureate of Kansas, 2015-2017

“Full of the fingerprint of the everyday illuminated, this collection by KC and regional poets shines a light on the examined life. At once intimate and authentic, this collection urges us to live life with open eyes and arms. Also, it’s chiseled and expertly crafted.”
—Kevin Rabas, author of Songs for My Father

Ghost Sign is a four-poet field guide to Southeast Kansas, a region rich in history, small town character and characters, beauty, and troubles. These poets give us the ‘haggard and the high class together,’ the strip mining pits, the taverns, the ball fields, the ‘heron wings and beer cans,’ the Royals on the radio.”
—Thomas Fox Averill, the author of rode and A Carol Dickens Christmas

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