Smuggling Elephants Through Airport Security Released from MSU Press

January 8, 2020

Smuggling Elephants Through Airport Security by Brad Johnson, the fifth title from Wheelbarrow Books, has just been released by the MSU Press

Smuggling Elephants Through Airport Security is a kaleidoscopic tour of the American moment,” writes judge Carolyn Forché, “as conducted by a poet unafraid of the vertiginous highs and lows of a culture that sends into collision its smart cars, hurricanes, emojis, pop heroes, meth houses, TV pundits, rock stars and refugees. This moment, he writes, is the rising tropical storm surge of American’s second antebellum. The secret to the title is revealed by an incident in an airport having to do with a belt buckle shaped like a revolver, and its genius is its argument regarding the thingness of things. The tutelary spirit of this work could easily have been John Ashbery. I have not encountered many poets as brave as Johnson, as willing to go anywhere and see what happens, all the while imagining that even here, even now, it is possible to find one’s way.”

The Wheelbarrow Books Poetry Prize was established in 2017, and selects two manuscripts annually for publication by the MSU Press. 

Book cover featuring a neon illustration of an elephant, a gun, a bust, crayons, and headphones all in a suitcase. The text reads "Smuggling Elephants Through Airport Security. Poems by Brad Johnson"