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This report is taken from PN Review 211, Volume 39 Number 5, May - June 2013.

Remembering Adam Johnson Leah Fritz
As I set out to write this brief memoir of my friend, Adam Johnson, I feel a thick, grey cloud in the way. The memories are clear and I have the books and booklets I can refer to, even a copy of the Literary Review appreciation I wrote in 1993 of Adam's first full collection of poems, The Spiral Staircase, published by Acumen a few days after he died. He had been promised so much in that last year: that first collection and a second, too, this one by Carcanet; a position at Cambridge University - amazing, exciting opportunities for a young poet with little formal education, who was raised in a council house in Stalybridge by his mother after a rough divorce and then totally rejected by his father when he found out Adam was gay.

When I first met him, Adam was working behind the bar at the English Centre of PEN. He had spent much time at other, less genteel bars. He alluded to them in 'The Playground Bell', the title poem of the first volume brought out by Carcanet: 'No names, no contacts, but each parting hug / Was less a token of civility / than an act of love', he wrote. The poem, a confession without repentance, his sexuality regarded as a gift, ends:

I stare at death in a mirror behind the bar
And wonder when I sacrificed my blood,
And how I could not recognise the face ...


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