Ronald Johnson Analysis

Other literary forms

(Poets and Poetry in America)

In addition to his poetry, Ronald Johnson published several cookbooks, including The Aficionado’s Southwestern Cooking (1968), The American Table (1984), Southwestern Cooking, New and Old (1985), Simple Fare (1989), and Company Fare (1991).


(Poets and Poetry in America)

Prizes awarded to Ronald Johnson for his poetry include the Boar’s Head Prize for Poetry (1960), Poetry’s Inez Boulton Award (1964), and National Endowment for the Arts grants (1969 and 1974). His magnum opus, Ark, was awarded the Boston Book Review’s Bingham Poetry Prize in 1997, shortly before his death. After his death, in 2000, a conference on Johnson’s poetry, called “Eye, Ear, and Mind,” was held at the State University of New York, Buffalo.


(Poets and Poetry in America)

Bettridge, Joel, and Eric Murphy Selinger, eds. Ronald Johnson: Life and Works. Orono, Maine: National Poetry Foundation, 2008. This collection of scholarly essays describing the life and works of Johnson contains two interviews with the poet, a memoir by Peter O’Leary, and a complete bibliography.

Chicago Review 42, no. 1 (Winter, 1996). A special section of this issue is devoted to Johnson’s poetic monument Ark, his lifework, with such contributors as Thom Gunn, Robert Creeley, and Paul Naylor.

Harmon, William. “The Poetry of a Journal at the End of an Arbor in a Watch.” Parnassus: Poetry in Review 9 (Spring/Summer, 1981): 217-232. For the Johnson scholar, this work represents an apex in the canon of critical evaluations of the poet’s works from A Line of Poetry, A Row of Trees to Ark. Harmon’s ambitions often make his writings as complex and dense as the work he is examining. This is a rewarding essay that requires perseverance and determination.

Jaffe, Dan. “Voice of the Poet.” Saturday Review 52 (September 6, 1969): 29. This review of Valley of the Many-Colored Grasses illustrates Johnson’s devotion to nature, the inspiration provided by Walt Whitman and the Black Mountain poets, and his decidedly unfashionable language. Jaffe observes that...

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