New Poetry Collection
A P–47 American pilot shot down in northern Italy parachutes into a mountainside. Daring partisans hide him from the Nazis for tedeschi are everywhere. A generation later, the airman’s grown daughter journeys to meet his saviors and her namesakes, gradually becoming a member of village life.
In her second collection, Plunge, Terry S. Johnson gracefully weaves memory, research and first-hand experience into a poignant portrayal of her father, as well as his rescuers and her deepening ties to their descendants.
Honoring the music and mysteries of language—a letter home in soldier-slang harmonizes with Latin prayer, local Italian dialect clashes with formal German, lovers falter in their common high school French—Plunge portrays wartime horror and hard-earned prosperity on both sides of the Atlantic.
Praise for Plunge
“In Plunge Terry S. Johnson drops us into World War II as her pilot father is shot down, saved by Italian partisans, and eventually captured by Germans. The poems also chronicle life in the post-war years—from warrior to student, from city to suburb, and then the poet’s own life as she grows up and develops lasting relationships with Italian families that saved her father. The poems become a profound study of the generations during and just after the war, both in America and in Italy. Johnson captures the language and textures of the times, the shifting attitudes and roles, making of them a rich tapestry that does indeed the good and crucial work of poetry: that is, to create a music that holds, that keeps time and prevails against the pressures of oblivion.” BETSY SHOLL
“In Terry S. Johnson’s Plunge, personal history, family history, and public history commingle—always strikingly, always surprisingly. Think of this book as a family photo album, in which both the sepia images of the poet’s father—war hero, pilot, POW—and the Polaroids depicting the poet’s own youth, speak to one another across time. This passage is achieved through imaginative daring, but also through a sure and steady lyric acuity. Plunge honors the past with vigor, invention, and a big-hearted generosity of spirit.” DAVID WOJAHN