Author Event: Devin Johnston & Martin Riker

Thu, 03/23/2023 - 6:00pm

Please join us for a very special author event: The Double Launch of Devin Johnston's Dragons: Poems and Marty Riker's The Guest Lecture

Devin Johnston    Martin Riker

Born in 1970, Devin Johnston spent his childhood in North Carolina. He is the author of seven books of poetry including Dragons, published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux in 2023. He has also published Creaturely and Other Essays, meditations on the natural world. He works as an editor of Flood Editions, a nonprofit publishing house, and he teaches at Saint Louis University in Missouri.

Praise for Devin Johnston:

“Quiet, emotionally reserved, and a marvel of technical prowess . . . Johnston’s poetry is admirable as much for its classical poise as for the tremors that both undermine and bolster that poise.” —David Orr, The New York Times Book Review

“[Johnston] demonstrates how musical poetry can be . . . [he] is an astute observer, rendering nature and various locales with the keen eye of a painter and the wisdom of a historian who grasps the value of the overlooked.” —Elizabeth Lund, Christian Science Monitor

“Johnston has built up a quiet body of poetry which contains astonishing power.” —Ian Pople, The Manchester Review

“What has stayed consistent in Johnston’s work is his attention to the minimum phenomena of sensation, the minimum data of the physical world, and the minimum unit of verse (the syllable). But his power is the way he uses minimal quanta to comprehend ever larger horizons.” —Scott Bartley, Literary Matters

Martin Riker is the author of two novels, The Guest Lecture (2023) and Samuel Johnson’s Eternal Return (2018), and his criticism has appeared in the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times, among other publications. He teaches in the English department at Washington University in St. Louis, and is co-founder--with Danielle Dutton--of the feminist press Dorothy, a Publishing Project.  

In a hotel room in the middle of the night, Abby, a young feminist economist, lies awake next to her sleeping husband and daughter. Anxious that she is grossly underprepared for a talk she is presenting tomorrow on optimism and John Maynard Keynes, she has resolved to practice by using an ancient rhetorical method of assigning parts of her speech to different rooms in her house and has brought along a comforting albeit imaginary companion to keep her on track--Keynes himself.

Yet as she wanders with increasing alarm through the rooms of her own consciousness, Abby finds herself straying from her prepared remarks on economic history, utopia, and Keynes's pragmatic optimism. A lapsed optimist herself, she has been struggling under the burden of supporting a family in an increasingly hostile America after being denied tenure at the university where she teaches. Confronting her own future at a time of global darkness, Abby undertakes a quest through her memories to ideas hidden in the corners of her mind--a piecemeal intellectual history from Cicero to Lewis Carroll to Queen Latifah--as she asks what a better world would look like if we told our stories with more honest and more hopeful imaginations.  

Praise for The Guest Lecture:

"Riker spins a brilliant and innovative exploration of modern economic history in the form of a late-night waking dream . . . Abby's metaphysical wanderings swell to a scorching condemnation of modern life and an empathetic celebration of its meaningful moments. It's a transporting, clever, and inspired work of fiction."-- Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"On the eve of a guest lecture she's set to deliver--to an audience whose identity is never fully revealed--economics professor Abby wrestles with thorny theoretical issues and a few problems closer to home . . . [A] unique novel of ideas. A thoughtful and thought-filled stroll down a life's Memory Lane."-- Kirkus Reviews

New York Times


Copies of the authors' books will be available for purchase and signing at the event.  Event is free and open to all.

Event address: 
Subterranean Books
6271 Delmar, In the Loop
Dragons: Poems By Devin Johnston Cover Image
ISBN: 9780374607302
Availability: On our shelves now (while supplies last)
Published: Farrar, Straus and Giroux - March 14th, 2023

The Guest Lecture By Martin Riker Cover Image
ISBN: 9780802160416
Availability: On our shelves now (while supplies last)
Published: Grove Press, Black Cat - January 24th, 2023

Mosses and Lichens: Poems By Devin Johnston Cover Image
ISBN: 9780374538958
Availability: On our shelves now (while supplies last)
Published: Farrar, Straus and Giroux - July 28th, 2020

Samuel Johnson's Eternal Return By Martin Riker Cover Image
ISBN: 9781566895286
Availability: On our shelves now (while supplies last)
Published: Coffee House Press - October 9th, 2018