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Denis Johnson — 4 Poets


It’s 1990 — maybe 1991. I’m on the phone with a cat named Steve Fisher. We’re in some pretty serious talks about starting a publishing company. Steve makes a suggestion: “let’s call it the synaesthesia press.”

“I’m all for that,” I said.

Steve suggests we contact some writers we both admire and solicit them for work. Our original thoughts are to launch a broadside series first, then get into chapbooks.

We talk about it some more, hang up, and I run to my dictionary to look up the word synaesthesia.

Steve secures a poem from Denis Johnson, and of course it’s a keeper.

Then, some things get into the way. Steve vanishes, and, later I discover, it’s for good.

In the winter of ’94, I made a commitment to synaesthesia press, and the following spring I published its first two books.

The Denis Johnson poem appears in the second book, 4 Poets. As do the rest of the poems from writers I solicited — and a few I never spoke to.

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