Without: Body, Name, Country

We rated this book:


“Meg Johnson’s Without: Body, Name, Country is her third collection. Touted by its cover and interior blurbs as poetry, it’s split between verse and creative non-fiction.

“”Vaudeville,”” the first of two sections, covers the themes of the collection’s title. Free verse focused on Johnson’s maladies (canker sores, menstruation, homelessness, under-employment) are balanced against psychic distress (self-loathing, failed relationships). President Trump and Vice-President Pence come under attack, and our world faces societal collapse. Filling the divides are nods to Sasha Velour, Josephine Baker, and Dangerous Nan McGrew.

The second section, “”Diagnosis,”” uses flash non-fiction to continue the memoir format, and focuses entirely on matters of health. First up are a nine-page piece relating Johnson’s trials as an early-developing adolescent, “”On Growing Up Too Fast,”” and a shorter companion, “”Breasts.”” These are followed by twenty pieces, on her illness and recovery from Guillain-Barré Syndrome. A “”Final Note”” ends the collection by assuring the reader, and perhaps the author, “”I am not sad about my sadness.””

This is a well-crafted memoir of pain, physical and emotional, from beginning to end. Heavily weighted with what Johnson calls “”vintage sadness,”” it’s buoyed by the variety and quality of its poems.”

Reviewed By:

Author Meg Johnson
Star Count 3/5
Format Trade
Page Count 72 pages
Publisher Vine Leaves Press
Publish Date 2020-09-15
ISBN 9781925965421 Buy this Book
Issue November 2020
Category Poetry & Short Stories