Imperfect Echoes

Writing Truth and Justice with Capital Letters,
lie and oppression with Small

By the multi award-winning poet
Carolyn Howard-Johnson

Inspired by Nobel Prize winner Czeslaw Milosz’s poem “Incantation” that lauds the power of human reason over the recurring and seemingly insane political realities, Howard-Johnson holds out hope but is not persuaded by trends that seem worse now than they were in Milosz’s time. A student of  Suzanne Lummis, UCLA poetry instructor and the Fresno School of Poetry fronted by US poet laureate Philip Levine, she touches on the isms of the world—racism, ageism, even what might be termed “wallism” but was once referred to as xenophobia. In her poem “Crying Walls,” she sounds a low warning reminiscent of Robert Frost: “Chains linked. Wire barbed,/ Krylon smeared. Feeble,/ useless, unholy billboards,/ anything but mending walls.”

"The word choice was exquisite.  The structure of the book allows journey its passage, and though there is a destination the author doesn't allow the poems to hurry themselves too quickly through its lyrical foreshadowing. The standout poem for me was "Little Red Hen and Friends." ~Judge Writer's Digest 25th Annual Book Awards




Also Book Excellence Awards Finalist, Dan Poynter's Global E-Book Bronze Award, and
Writer's Digest Honorable Mention for Books of Poetry.


My Fave Review for Imperfect Echoes

“Carolyn Howard-Johnson is articulate, gifted, insightful, iconoclastic, and a truly impressive literary talent. Imperfect Echoes: Writing Truth and Justice with Capital Letters, lie and oppression with Small is an inherently fascinating, thoughtful, and thought-provoking read that is very highly recommended for community and academic library Contemporary Poetry collections . . .”
Jim Cox, Editor-In-Chief of Midwest Book Reviews


Unsolicited Praise:

"This is how I want to write poetry, with deep meaning for a world in need of change. Sometimes a poem is more powerful than other writing because its condensed energy in words, ready to explode in the reader's mind." ~ Mindy Phillips Lawrence, poet and editor

 Paperback and e-book may be ordered from Amazon


Quick Links Learn More About Other Chapbooks in the Celebration Series
She Wore Emerald Then Imagining the Future
Cherished Pulse Blooming Red
Deeper Into the Pond Sublime Planet

Review of Imperfect Echoes
Marlan Warren

Carolyn Howard-Johnson’s “Imperfect Echoes: Writing Truth and Justice with Capital Letters, lie and oppression with Small” is just perfect. This Los Angeles award-winning poet lays out the landscape of her contemplative thoughts, feelings and reactions with such honesty and deceptive simplicity that they have the effect of offering a peek into her private journals. What puts this poetry on par with leaping tall buildings is the fact that each poem manages the feat of conveying personal and universal relevance at once.
Do not be scared off by the prospect of political rhetoric masquerading as literature; this is not one of those books. Although the book's subtitle may strike some as rather lofty, it is a quote from Czeslaw Milosz's poem, “Incantation,” in his anthology, “The Captive Mind,” which reflects Howard-Johnson's poetic themes. She has divided her prolific poems into a Prologue plus four sections: “Remembering What We Must; “Nations: Tranquil Self-Destruction”; “Acceptance: Waiting for the Gift”; and “Future Stones of Distrust.”
Howard-Johnson deftly blends the "Truth and Justice" observations with the "Small" moments of "lie(s)" and "oppression" as they intersperse through her poet's journey. The poems in “Remembering What We Must” address the stark realities of war and global misery, which Howard-Johnson treats with her practiced light touch that floats like the proverbial butterfly and stings like an outraged bee.
In “Belgium's War Fields, she compares the reasons for bygone wars to our present day confusion: “And now a war that takes from the mouths /and hearts of the stranded, the homeless. / How different from those who / marched with snares or flew flags / in a war when we knew / why we were there.”
In theNations: Tranquil Self-Destruction” section, “The Story of My Missed Connection in Minneola” brings to life a brief rest stop during a road trip, which seems rather amusing at first as the wife relieves her bladder and the husband declines the coffee with “Let's skip it. Coffee's / probably been stewing for days...” but hits an unexpected bump of overt bigotry when the roadside store owner confides in them (in between the screeches of his pet parrot) that he left Los Angeles to get away from the “ragheads.”
In the “Acceptance: Waiting for the Gift” section, “Relatives” takes on the ways in which "Small" minds can make a family dinner feel like a stint in Purgatory: “Perhaps you won't invite me back / if I mention that infamous / uncle. You know, the one who killed / three of his wives / but is candid / about who he is, / how many he's killed, / the methods he used / and never gets invited to dinner.
In the “Future Stones of Distrust” section, “Rosa Parks Memorialized” opens with “On the day our September losses / reached 2,000, a tribute / to Rosa...” and asks “If she were alive now.../ would her solo / be enough or do we need now a choir singing, / thousands screaming...?”
Imperfect Echoes allows readers to witness a poet's lifetime revisited in memory and with fresh wisdom. If the topics of oppression, prejudice and war seem to some "overdone," Howard-Johnson responds in her Prologue poem, “Apologies from a Magpie”:
Magpies are born to sing others' songs—
stained notes, imperfect echoes—
until the world begins to know
them by heart.
Note: Proceeds from the sales will be donated to the non-profit human rights watchdog, Amnesty International.




Marlan Warren is an L.A. journalist, novelist, playwright, screenwriter, blogger, and publicist with Roadmap Communications and Book Publicity by Marlan. She reviews for the Midwest Book Review, and her blogs include “Roadmap Girl’s Book Buzz” and “L.A. Now & Then.” Her press releases are published in Broadway World Book News and the BBC Record. She is the author of the novel, “Roadmaps for the Sexually Challenged: All’s Not Fair in Love or War,” and the producer/writer of the acclaimed documentary, “Reunion.” Marlan is now in production for the documentary “What Did You Do in the War, Mama?: Kochiyama’s Crusaders,” based on her play “Bits of Paradise.”


About the Author

Carolyn Howard-Johnson’s poetry reflects her background in journalism. Her style owes much to her mentor Suzanne Lummis (star poetry instructor for UCLA Extension’s Writers’ Program) and by extension former US poet laureate Phillip Levine who was known for a straight forward style known as the Fresno School of Poetry. That school is down-to-earth—often with a nitty gritty edge—but more importantly, as least as far as Carolyn is concerned, the ability to find complete sentences across line breaks.

Carolyn’s several careers prepared her for promoting her own books and those of others. She was the youngest person ever hired as a staff writer for the Salt Lake Tribune—“A Great Pulitzer Prize Winning Newspaper”—where she wrote features for the society page and a column under the name of Debra Paige. That gave her insight into the needs of editors, the very people authors must work with to get free ink. Being familiar with the way news is handled helps her see how different books—even poetry—fit into different news cycles.

Later, in New York, she was an editorial assistant at Good Housekeeping Magazine. She also handled accounts for star fashion publicist Eleanor Lambert who instituted the first Ten Best Dressed List. Writing releases for celebrity designers of the day including Pauline Trigere, Rudy Gernreich, and Christian Dior required an eye for color and form. Those same skills were needed when she helped produce photo shoots for Lambert’s clients . . . and later as a poet.

Carolyn’s experience in journalism and as a poet and author of fiction and nonfiction helped the multi award-winning author understand how different genres can be marketed more effectively. She was an instructor for UCLA Extension’s renowned Writers’ Program for nearly a decade and has studied writing at Cambridge University, United Kingdom; Herzen University in St. Petersburg, Russia; and Charles University in Prague. She worked as columnist, reviewer, and staff writer for the Pasadena Star-News, Home Décor Buyer, the Glendale News-Press (an affiliate of the LA Times),, and others.

Her HowToDoItFrugally series of books for writers are all multi award-winners and her marketing campaign for the second book in that series, The Frugal Editor, won the Next Generation Indie Best Book Award for marketing as well as coveted awards from USA Book News, Global E-book Awards, the Irwin Award, and others. She also has a multi award-winning series of HowToDoItFrugally books for retailers.

Howard-Johnson was honored as Woman of the Year in Arts and Entertainment by California Legislature members Carol Liu, Dario Frommer, and Jack Scott. She received her community’s Character and Ethics award for her work promoting tolerance with her writing and the Diamond Award in Arts and Culture from her community’s Library and Arts and Culture Commissions. She was named to Pasadena Weekly’s list of “Fourteen Women of the San Gabriel Valley Who Make Life Happen” and Delta Gamma, a national fraternity of women, honored her with their Oxford Award.

Carolyn is an actor who has appeared in ads for Apple, Lenscrafters, Time-Life CDs, Marlboro, Blue Shield, Disney Cruises (Japan) and others. She admits to being an English major in college but denies preferring diagramming sentences to reading a good daily newspaper.

Her Web site is She blogs writers resources at Writer’s Digest’s 101 Best Websites pick and rants about wordiness and grammar issues at The Frugal, Smart, and Tuned-In Editor blog,

About the Artist


Richard Conway Jackson


Richard Conway Jackson is serving twenty-five years to life for receiving stolen property in California. His days are filled with drawing and writing, some published in literary magazines. His art is catalogued by CHI-EY INC that publishes print-on-demand greeting cards using prisoners’ franchised art. His work was also published in an issue of Rebel Rodz magazine and two poetry books: Swallow (Amsterdam Press, 2009) and Barbie at 50 (Cervena Barva Press, 2010), by Jendi Reiter.

The artist is waiting for Recall of Sentence proceedings in Los Angeles Superior Court. In 2015 he will have spent twenty-one years in California State prisons.

Reviews for Sublime Planet

Small Press Bookwatch: January 2016
James A. Cox, Editor-in-Chief
Midwest Book Review
278 Orchard Drive, Oregon, WI 53575
The Poetry Shelf
Imperfect Echoes
Carolyn Howard-Johnson
4900 LaCross Rd., North Charleston, SC 29406
ISBN: 9781515232490
Purchase paperback or e-book.

Reviewed by Midwest Book Review Editor-in-Chief Jim Cox

Synopsis: "Imperfect Echoes: Writing Truth and Justice with Capital Letters, lie and oppression with Small" is a work that was inspired by Nobel Prize winner Czeslaw Milosz's poem "Incantation" that lauds the power of human reason over the reoccurring and seemingly insane political realities. In "Imperfect Echoes", author Carolyn Howard-Johnson holds out hope but is not persuaded by trends that seem worse now than they were in Milosz's time. A student of Suzanne Lummis, UCLA poetry instructor and the Fresno School of Poetry fronted by US poet laureate Philip Levine, Carolyn touches on the isms of the world--racism, ageism, even what might be termed "wallism" but was once referred to as xenophobia. In her poem "Crying Walls," she sounds a low warning reminiscent of Robert Frost: "Chains linked. Wire barbed,/ Krylon smeared. Feeble,/ useless, unholy billboards,/ anything but mending walls."
Critique: Carolyn Howard-Johnson is articulate, gifted, insightful, iconoclastic, and a truly impressive literary talent. "Imperfect Echoes: Writing Truth and Justice with Capital Letters, lie and oppression with Small" is an inherently fascinating, thoughtful, and thought-provoking read that is very highly recommended for community and academic library Contemporary Poetry collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "Imperfect Echoes" is also available in a Kindle edition ($2.99).

Sample Poems
Imperfect Echoes


Crying Walls

Near Jerusalem, razorwire
coils a brutal line

imposed like walls
Lennon imagined

might one day disappear.
This one much like the first wall

I unexpectedly came across somewhere
in memory, an ocean away

marking its territory
East from West, the wall

that called my husband to arms,
just in case. Another wall,

cleaves Irish from Irish. Foreign
walls, but now a new one

crawls from Baja,
through mountain passes

along the Rio Grande. Walls.
Chains-linked. Wire-barbed,

 Krylon-smeared. Feeble,
useless, unholy billboards,

 anything but mending walls.

~From Imperfect Echoes. Originally published by Penwomanship. Carolyn Howard-Johnson (c)


Visit to Kirovsk

 On the occasion of my visit to the Russian monument commemorating the siege of Leningrad.

To commemorate what happened here, bronze erupts from a slope slanting from the highway to the Neva. A tonsure surrounds its thrust, bald land circled by summer’s sod, trampled, evidence of those who stop along the way to Staraya Ladoga.

This artery led the Nazis to Leningrad, opened itself a spliced vein onto those behind its battlements. Numb. Soldiers fertilized it here with relics, pocked the path with remnants of their siege.

My uncle’s souvenirs laid out on a chenille spread. A Glock. A green iron cross. A canteen in a canvas pouch. His own Purple Heart.

A breeze from the river evaporates memories. At the monument’s base rusty memorial bouquets. This helmet. That blade. An exhausted hose, corrugated like a windpipe. Here a mask; huge grasshopper head, mandibles, vacant eyes. They tarnish there. No one here thinks to carry them home.

~ Carolyn Howard-Johnson (c)

Buy Links for Carolyn's Books

Great Fiction
HARKENING at Amazon in their new and used feature.
Both of these books are out of print. They are available only on Amazon's New and Used feature for about $1.

Great Poetry
Purchase TRACINGS (Finishing Line Press) at Amazon.
IMPERFECT ECHOES: Writing Truth and Justice with Capital Letters,
lie and oppression with Small

Give the gift of poetry with a chapbook from Magdalena Ball's
My Celebration Series

CHERISHED PULSE: Unconventional Love Poetry
IMAGINING THE FUTURE: Ruminations on Fathers and Other Masculine Apparitions
SHE WORE EMERALD THEN: Reflections on Motherhood
BLOOMING RED: Christmas Poetry for the Rational
DEEPER INTO THE POND: Celebration of Femininity
SUBLIME PLANET: Celebrating Earth and the Universe

HowToDoItFrugally Series for Writers
Second Edition

Survive and Thrive Series of HowToDoItFrugally Books for Retailers


Most of Carolyn's books are also available for the Kindle reader. Did you know that with the Free app, Kindle can be adapted to any reader--even your PC! 

 "Careers that are not fed die as readily
as any living organism given no sustenance." 
Carolyn Howard-Johnson

Studio photography by Uriah Carr
3 Dimensional Book Cover Images by iFOGO
Logo by Lloyd King


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Frugal E-Book Tip

Kindle E-Books Aren't
Just for Kindle Anymore

Did you know that Amazon’s Kindle e-books are a low-cost/no-cost way to access books even if you don’t have a dedicated Kindle reader? You can read Kindle's e-books on smartphones, desktop computers and any e-device in between. You can even store the books on the Amazon cloud.

~ Quote from Diana Schneidman  author


Special Blooming Red Christmas Chapbook
Greeting Card Offer



For a list of resources on tolerance related movies, books, organizations, and more, click here.

Find tips on writing, promotion, or tech on every page of this Web site. 





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"I have been a professional writer 40 years, and am also a tenured full professor of journalism. Carolyn's Sharing with Writers newsletter is  most useful for me--and for my students. I emphasize to them that while research is 90% of writing, and the actual writing is about 10%, there's another 100% out there called promotion. Carolyn shows numerous ways to get the message to the mass media."
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Find Carolyn on the Web

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All things publishing with
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Great way for readers, authors, reviewers and publicists to get more
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This is the Frugal, Smart
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Carolyn's Awards

Awards for Carolyn's Books, Blogs and More

The New Book Review
Named to
Master's in Online Universities'

101 Essential Sites for Voracious Readers

Writer's Digest 101 Best Websites
Sharing with Writers blog.


Best Book Award for The Frugal Book Promoter (2004) and The Frugal Editor (2008) and the Second Edition of The Frugal Book Promoter (2011).


Reader Views Literary Award for The Frugal Editor

New Generation Award for Marketing and Finalist for The Frugal Editor

Book Publicists of Southern California's Irwin Award

Military Writers Award of Excellence for
Tracings, A Chapbook of Poetry.

A Retailer's Guide to Frugal In-Store Promotion wins author Military Writers Society of America's Author of the Month award for March, 2010


Gold Medal Award from Military Writers Society of America, 2010. MWSA also gave a nod to She Wore Emerald Then, a chapbook of poetry honoring mothers.

The Frugal Editor Named #! on Top Ten Editing Books list.

Finalist New Generation Book Awards 2012, The Frugal Book Promoter; Finalist 2010 The Frugal Editor;
Winner 2010 Marketing Campaign for the Frugal Editor

The Oxford Award
the alumna who exemplifies the Delta Gamma precept of service to her community and who, through the years, devotes her talents to improve the quality of life around her.

The Frugal Book Promoter is runner-up in the how-to category for the Los Angeles Book Festival 2012 awards.

Glendale City Seal
Winner Diamond Award for Achievement in the Arts
Glendale California's Arts and Culture Commission and the City of Glendale Library,

And more than a dozen other awards for Carolyn's novel, short story collection and poetry. See the awards page on this site.

Site Sponsor

Chaz DeSimone is my book cover designer, logo whiz, and marketing partner. He is always right there with his poster program, too. He always has one that fits my most recent efforts--poetry, promotion, or about anything else!

Check out his free Ampersand posters.


"There are not enough compliments I could give to Carolyn. She is certainly a mentor of mine and such a tremendous inspiration! What doesn't she do, and do well, after all? Talented as a writer/author, she is also an amazing marketer/promoter who is generous with her time and talent with other publishing professionals. Carolyn is a STAR in the publishing community and I give her the highest recommendation I can give to any colleague I have. If you want a passionate professional who delivers, Carolyn is your woman!"
~ Bev Walton-Porter


Real Poetry Chapbooks as Greeting Cards
Available in Quantities of Twenty-Five

Cover art by Vicki Thomas, Poetry by Magdalena Ball and Carolyn Howard-Johnson

"Cherished Pulse is full of poems that describe love from the eyes and hearts of young and old. We see love in its youthful stage, stirring the hearts of man and woman alike and tying a bond that even death cannot break. As we continue reading, we understand that love deepens into an awesome, but quiet joy as the couple grows older. These poems renew our faith in love as they remind us of our own experience with this most sought after emotion."
~ Lucille P Robinson for


Third in the Celebration of Chapbooks with Magdalena Ball, Imagining the Future is written expressly for fathers "and other masculine apparitions."

She Wore Emerald Then is a book of Moods of Motherhood: thirty poems by award-winning poets Magdalena Ball and Carolyn Howard-Johnson, with original photography by May Lattanzio. A beautifully presented, tender and strikingly original gift book, ideal for Mother's Day or any day when you want to celebrate the notion of motherhood in its broadest sense.  Share this collection with someone you love.

More on Blooming Red: Christmas Poetry for the Rational on this Web site.

Sublime Planet is an e-chapbook and paperback published in the time-honored tradition of poets everywhere. 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. Photograpy by Ann Howley.

“Whatever your age these poems celebrating women will speak to you of times to look forward to or to remember. These are not poems to be read once. They will stay with you forever.” ~ Nancy Famolari, author.

Also by Carolyn:

Tracings is winner of the Military Society of America's Award of Excellence and named to the Compulsive Reader's Ten Best Reads of 2005

Imperfect Echoes is Carolyn's newest poetry book. Writing Truth and Justice with Capital Letters, lie and oppression with Small. 

Cover and interior art by Richard Conway Jackson
All proceeds go to Amnesty International