Music for Mussolini by Nick Johnson

music for mussolini final 02.29.2016.jpg
music for mussolini final 02.29.2016.jpg
music for mussolini final 02.29.2016.jpg
music for mussolini final 02.29.2016.jpg

Music for Mussolini by Nick Johnson


Nick Johnson’s debut collection, music for mussolini, 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. 

What People Are Saying

"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, author of The Palace of Contemplating Departure 

"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, author of Testify

"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, California’s former poet laureate and author of Something About the Blues: An Unlikely Collection of Poetry 

Publication Details

All of our books are printed locally in Oakland, CA. We strongly believe in supporting local publishers and local printers. 

February 2016 • 5.5 x 7.5 • 62 pp. • Trade Paper

ISBN: 978-0-99661-729-1

Cover artwork: Maxine Solomon 

Cover design: Britta Fithian-Zurn

Author Details

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An interview with Nick Johnson, from The Write Stuff series: