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Another Way To Say Enter 


In Amanda Johnston's debut collection, Another Way to Say Enter, readers are offered glimpses of scenes as if peering through windows and doors. Bright and sharp, precise in their Imagism, Johnston's poems distill moments to their essence, challenge notions of what it means to fully examine a life day by day, room by room. These poems are both visceral and spiritual, reminding the reader that entry, departure, and the inevitable return is a journey that must be felt, not just imagined.

Argus House Press, 2017​ / ISBN 978-1-64136-126-2

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Poems from Another Way to Say Enter Online 

"When My Daughter Wasn't Assaulted"

"Hand to Mouth"

"Night Hike"

"Facing Us"

"We Named You Mercy"

Amanda Johnston’s first book sings with the passion of our great warrior poets. I hear the down-to-earth clarity of June Jordan, the passion of Sonia Sanchez, the self-assuredness and rage of Audre Lorde.  While Johnston’s poems bring to light grave and unending traumas in the wake of slavery, for me, they are hopeful.  They reassure me of a fierce connective tissue between us (embodied in many of her poems as mother love) that would lift a truck from the body of a child to save her.  Johnston’s poems apply just the right degree of salve and just the right degree of fire to our current American wounds.  A beautifully crafted, fierce and compelling voice. - Toi Derricotte

“What is safe in this burning for survival?” Amanda Johnston turns and turns the question, a high stakes puzzle to unravel, the answers all bound up in love. Tight, spare, minimalist and brimming with mystery, these poems weigh the consequences of every gesture: the opened lock, the raised right hand, the inward reach. “You grip the wheel, knuckles frozen, and press the gas/as clouds drift in and out of your mouth.” With strong resolve, illimitable talent, and a clear reverence for the forebears these poems reach for and find, Amanda Johnston crafts a collection of beauty and daring. Her risks are honest; her voice, vital—I mean absolutely necessary. -Lyrae Van Clief-Stefanon

Amanda Johnston’s Another Way to Say Enter blows open any doors that house the ignorant notion that motherhood is a limited or limiting identity. For who knows joy, knows terror, knows work, knows passion, knows struggle and fight like a mother? (“We know this/  familiar hysteria,” Johnston writes.) No one, these poems convince me—poems that carry new sight along a path forged through the American experience by writers such as Lucille Clifton, Toi Derricotte, Patricia Smith, Camille Dungy or Laurie-Ann Guerrero. As the poem “Making Amends” attests, mothers do not have time for bitterness. They have things to do—lives to make and save. I see in Amanda Johnston’s voice what it means to keep moving forward—unforgetting and expanding. - Kyle Dargan

Amanda Johnston’s earth-element is surely fire. One of the best things about fire is that it is honest. It takes whatever it can get, in the combination of oxygen and fuel. Fire does not pace itself. We think of fire as being out of control—“raging out of control” is the popular idiom that comes quickest to mind—but we must remember that fire exists in relationship with oxygen and fuel. These days, there is plenty of fuel, oh so much fuel, so much in need of burning, and yet not so much oxygen. What happens? One must ventilate the environment then to provide oxygen. Amanda Johnston ventilates, then burns. You’ll see. You’ll hear. - Rick Bass


Edited Image 2014-7-26-12:29:11

guap - (gwa'p), n - a considerable amount of money, most often cash, indicating a high degree of purchasing power. –

These poems highlight the economic struggles and emotional consequences of finding and making a way to make do. Lottery tickets, layaway, and hope line the pages of this collection. 

Bundle GUAP and Lock & Key for $20 and receive a complete digital audio recording of all poems, and a digital PDF copy of both chapbooks. Print copies are no longer available. Inquire


lock and key promo image large.jpg

The poems in Lock & Key step beyond the gate one builds around themselves so they may see their heart in full view. I wrote these poems to see the woman I am down to the grit and marrow. This is the start of a deep exploration of self. Open. Enter. 

Bundle GUAP and Lock & Key for $20 and receive a complete digital audio recording of all poems, and a digital PDF copy of both chapbooks. Print copies are no longer available. Inquire

Artwork by Ahyana Johnston

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