I stumbled across this book in a shop which sells organic home wares and gifts. I wasn’t even seeking a book at the time, but if there is a book to be found in a shop, I will be the one to find it. There was a small stack of these books sitting on a shelf, waiting for someone to come and pick one up. I obliged. I opened the book to the first page and immediately decided to buy it. I then proceeded to read the entire book in one short sitting.

Count Me the Stars is a collection of poetry and the reason why physical books will never become obsolete. There is nothing about this book which could translate to an ebook and evoke the same feeling. The poems are printed on recycled paper, and the pages are refreshingly sparse, holding only a few lines of poetry and straight-line ink illustrations. There is nothing fancy about the illustrations, yet their stunning simplicity complements the well-crafted poems, which evoke strong images with extremely well-chosen words. The whole production of this book is something to admire.

The poems mould into one another with no clear distinction between each, as visual artist Johnson shies away from prefacing each poem with a title. She provides an index of first lines at the back of the book which suggests the breaks between separate poems, yet the effortless melting of one poem into the next is what makes the book so easy to devour.

Each double page spread is her canvas: Johnson ignores conventions of writing in straight lines from left to write, and plunges her work onto the page wherever it feels right.

Johnson’s poetry is what poetry should be: words which evoke such vivid images, such strong emotion, that you feel your heart wrench and your toes tingle, accompanied by images which engage your imagination even further, without stripping it completely away.

Find out more about Kylie Johnson and her work at http://paperboatpress.com/about/ .

 Murdoch Books, 2008

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