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Daniel Johnson

Artist-in-Residence | Cohort 3, 2018-19

Poet Daniel Johnson is known for his early lyrical explorations of the American Rust Belt. “I grew up with the sense that something had come and gone before me, that something had been lost,” Johnson has said of his impulse to elegize and to give praise. “ 'How to Catch a Falling Knife' gives us a beautifully unpredictable account of the everyday dangers among which body and spirit must move,” a reviewer wrote of his inaugural collection. Currently, Johnson is completing, "In the Absence of Sparrows," which explores his friendship with journalist James Foley, who was executed by ISIS in Syria. For nearly a decade, Johnson served as the founding executive director of 826 Boston, a youth writing center in Roxbury. 

We Are Boston: Stories of hope, struggle, and resilience

For the first few months of his residency, Daniel led oral history workshops at sites across Boston, including:

  • Curtis Hall Community Center in Jamaica Plain
  • the East Boston Senior Center
  • Harbor Health in Mattapan, and
  • the Charlestown Golden Age Center.

A number of these workshops occurred in conjunction with the Elderly Commission and their ongoing Memory Cafés – events for Bostonians suffering from memory loss – held at senior centers across the City.

Participants came forward at these workshops offering to be interviewed or to interview a friend or relative. This led to the project, "We Are Boston: Stories of Hope, Struggle and Resilience," which features oral histories that he recorded of seniors from neighborhoods across the City. These oral histories traveled around the City via a 1930s-era phone booth.

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