Book Reviews

Click here to read a review of The Caregiver in Michigan Quarterly Review by poet Robin Smith Chapman. This review was published Oct. 1, 2018, to coincide with the print edition of the journal. MQR is an eclectic, interdisciplinary journal of arts and culture that seeks to combine the best of poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction, and translated works as well as outstanding critical essays on literary, cultural, social, and political matters.

Rhino Reviews also reviewed The Caregiver. Click here to read a review of the book by poet Gail Goepfert, an associate editor of Rhino Poetry, in August 2018.

from Midwest Book Review, June 2018: 

The Caregiver is the debut anthology showcasing Caroline Johnson’s poetry. It includes 50 poems that were inspired by the 15 years she devoted to taking care of her aging parents. The gathering includes free verse, lyrical poems, prose poetry and some formal verse. Many of the poems won contests and have been previously published in online print journals and anthologies. The poems touch on the topic of grieving but go beyond and focus on the many difficulties a caregiver experiences (both emotional and physical) yet also recognize the spiritual gifts that come with helping a loved one. Very highly recommended for both personal reading lists and community library Contemporary American Poetry collections, the verses collected in “The Caregiver: Poems” focus on a significant issue for our times and one that will only become more important, especially as our babyboomer population continues age. ‘A Mother’s Love’: She is sleeping and if you listen / you can almost hear her breathe. / The nurse sits her up in bed. / She winks one ey open and I feed her / a spoonful of stuffing and gravy. / With brown eyes she smiles, and the / smile lasts me the whole day — / more than seventy-seven years, / more than one week in a hospital bed, / more than a generation, / more than the love a mother can show.”

Other Testimonials:

“In these fine narrative poems, Caroline Johnson dramatizes the role of caregiver to aging parents.  Each poem is like a Raymond Carver short story: plainspoken tales filled with bitter ironies, moments of surprising grace, and lots and lots of heart.  The Caregiver shows how much can be done with essential tales told simply, how much intensity can hide below a plain surface.  Johnson has written a terrific book―an essential one―about loss and about the love and resilience that sustains us.”―Dr. Tony Barnstone, author of Tongue of War: From Pearl Harbor to Nagasaki, winner of the John Ciardi Prize and the Grand Prize in the Strokestown International.

“Heartbreaking and unforgettable, these poems confront the complex and difficult task of caregiving that requires control moderated with compassion. In unsparing language leavened with affection, Johnson speaks to those with aging parents as well as anyone facing illness or aging. An important book that takes on painful aspects with wisdom and a good heart.”―Joan Colby, author of Carnival and Ribcage, winner of 2015 Kithara Book Prize.

“With rare clarity, this book reveals the emotional and physical textures of caring for loved ones through a chronic illness. Caroline Johnson’s deft insights, refreshing authenticity, and wisdom borne of experience converge to invite readers into her world. There, they may feel validated, learn, grow, and find joy in the hard, hard work of caring. Whether you provide care to a family member or to those you meet in your professional work, this book is an uncommon gem. I will return to it often.”―Allan Hugh Cole Jr., author of Good Mourning: Getting Through Your Grief and Professor, Steve Hicks School of Social Work, The University of Texas at Austin