Sublime Planet

Sublime Planet
by Magdalena Ball and Carolyn Howard-Johnson
Photography by Ann Howley

This collection of ecologically oriented poems traverses a wide terrain, moving from the loss of species to the beauty of the natural world, from drought to the exploration of alternative planets. It’s an exhilarating collection that breaks boundaries and leads the reader deep into the personal heart of perception. Released by award winning poets Carolyn Howard-Johnson and Magdalena Ball to celebrate Earth Day, this is a collection of poetry that weaves the personal with the universal.

“I recommend Sublime Planet particularly to those individuals who reside on the planet.” ~ Suzanne Lummis, UCLA poetry instructor

Sublime Planet was a finalist in USA Book News Best Books!

For samples or to purchase a copy, click on the book cover

Listen to a recording of the title poem: Sublime Planet.

A few reviews

“The writing is deep and profound. Although I have read the book, slowly, several times, I am still impressed and seeing more meaning in the poems.

Species lost, beauty in the world, other planets, and desertification are some of the topics. Ball writes of vanishing starlings and a flight plan to extinction. She describes the tipping point as molten gold {that} melts to horizon – changing light to dark. Only an emotional response is possible.

Howard-Johnson writes of water “licking” the shore, and poppies that shed their gowns to release seeds. She writes in the Philip Levine school of poetry, which is quite journalistic. It is to be read a sentence or fragment at a time to understand and ponder.

The book is beautifully written and poignantly sad, as the reader considers harsh climate issues happening now.” Carolyn Wilhelm for Midwest Book Review

“What if we could cover the planet in poetry? That must have been the question, dreamed up by frequent writing team Carolyn Howard-Johnson and Magdalena Ball, that spawned this collection of planetary poetics. Delving into this collection of poetry feels like starting from the famous … image of Earth from space, and then jumping headfirst into a Google Earth armchair voyage to distant corners and familiar spaces, a verse trip into scientific and emotional depths. No security checkpoints needed here, no airline tickets, no cruise ships. Your passport is imagination, issued by the mind and the world. The passport stamps read “…the crocodile icefish/has an oyster-white heart–not red” (Howard-Johnson’s “Transparent Love Song”), or “Ten metres high/cracking the bleached dunes of memories” (“These Heavy Sands”), or other free verse exotic ports of call. This poetry has the ‘Wow’ factor, and it’s clear that these two inspire each other, their quiet but penetrating observations on our fragile yet vibrant planet meshing and complementing each other. This book of poems does more than a hundred shrill eco-screeds to awaken us to concern for the world, for water scarcity, for the Pacific Garbage Patch and trashtrees, for endangered species and tree victims of forest fires, the changing of the weather. Our planet is poetry, as this collection so adroitly proves.” Kristin J. Johnson

“Our world is both magnificent and terrible. These poems celebrate both aspects. I delighted in the lush images of places I’ve loved seeing them through the eyes of someone who loved them, too: Santa Ana winds, poppies, the plains of Kansas. There are also harsh poems like “Trash Tree” that show us the dark side of ourselves and the world. My favorite is “The Man I Love and the Writing Spider” because it’s so close to my own experience. I watch the spider build a web of silver threads delighting in the intricacy. But when it leaves the web and wants to come inside, it becomes the enemy. I want to squash it, but I’m grateful when some kinder person rescues it and gives it another chance at life or death. The poems not only invite you to relive sensuous experiences, but they make you think about the world, how important it is, and how we need to care for it. The book is a wonderful gift for Earth Day. A good time to meditate on the magnificence of the world.” Nancy Famolari

“A beautifully crafted poetry book celebrating our planet. Magdalena Ball and Carolyn Howard-Johnson have fresh and original ways of describing our world. When I take my walks now, I have their artful words to keep me company.” Jean Colonomos

“Both poets share a breath-taking book of poetry that is sublime, gentle, accepting, and allowing of all forms of life presently existing on Earth. Whether big or small, dwelling on land, soaring though the skies or swimming beneath the waves; whether a demure flower, a blade of grass, a burst of raindrops or even a Buddha all are acknowledged and respected. Each poetess also shares an awareness of a humanity that is both loving, but at times far less kind to other forms of life dwelling on our planet. Magdalena reminds us of Nature’s “Cacophany of Life,” while Carolyn reveals “the arachne spider that spins threads of silver,” and both describe the generous bounty of Earth’s oceans, the beauty of our planet, and the heavenly skies above. Thank you Carolyn and Magdalena for sharing your beautiful words. They are exquisite. I am eagerly looking forward to your next book of poetry, and more words of wisdom from both or you.”  Joyce A. Kovelman, Ph.D

Visual renderings of two poems from the collection