In stock

ISBN: 978-0-9966172-9-1
Categories Nomadic, Poetry

music for mussolini

Publication Date: March 2016


In June of 2023, Black Lawrence Press welcomed numerous existing and forthcoming Nomadic Press titles to our catalogue. music for mussolini was originally published by Nomadic.

nick johnson’s debut collection is dream like, playful in its use of language, and yet deeply rooted and serious. These soulful poems sing with operatic breath of loss and the tender moments when we find irrefutable hope.


From the first pages of this beautiful debut collection, readers will find poems scored like music and voices unafraid to leap, turn, and glide across the page. nick johnson’s work dances with memory, rides the edges of grief, and sings with wit and longing. Whether remembering a mother or reckoning with histories of war and oppression, the poems here dare to turn gaze and body toward life’s brightest and darkest mysteries. Here is a poet unafraid of silence, space, and breath. ‘Be breath or be brief,’ urges the speaker in ‘jazzphorism / what the saxophone says.’ And, later: ‘Slip a song inside a song.’ The poems in music for mussolini remind the reader to let play and the rhythms of well-scored poetry lead to deeper, unexpected meanings.
—Brynn Saito

nick johnson’s powerful first book includes history in a new and brilliant way. In these poems, voices, selves transforming and being transformed, blend the political and the personal with extraordinary conviction and awareness. These poems blend story and song with remarkable grace.
—Joseph Lease

In music tablature Italian [la overtura, vivacissimo, pianissimo] poet-adventurer nick johnson notes and whispers how he wishes us to read and pass along these playful, dead-serious poems. Red light. Yellow light. Green light. Look. Listen. Watch. Now it’s OK to cross his streets, where signals and sudden sirens rule. From mom-and-dad origins to the post-millennial space / time surveillance state he now calls home, nick johnson tells all with a thrill.
—Al Young

About the Author

© Nick Johnson

Nick Johnson

Nick Johnson was born and raised near the brackish Chesapeake Bay but now calls the Bay Area waters home. Johnson received his BA in English from Morgan State University and his MFA from the California College of the Arts. His work has been featured on the radio shows such as KPFA's Rude Awakening, and has appeared in The Cincinnati Review, Black Renaissance Noire, Conversations at the Wartime Cafe, Eleven Eleven, Brilliant Corners and other fine journals. His first book of poems, music for mussolini (2016 Nomadic Press), was a finalist for the CLMP Firecracker Award. He lives and works in San Francisco.

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