FORMANDENERGY   SCULPTURE   POETRY HOUSE   ABOUT   CONTACT  

Please remove shoes, the sign says.
He takes off his sandals, then can’t stop unburdening himself. Folding and laying aside clothing, unmediated except by notebook and pen, the poet slides opens the door and steps into the dark light of wood. The fifth element. Heart wood. Mind wood. Spirit wood. A river of time running through its grain. Riffle and pool and eddy of time.

Feel of oiled wood grain. Touch of tool and hand. Ripples chiseled and planed, carved and rubbed by hand. Edge and trim of hammered copper. A large circle in the plank floor with a pentagon of redwood burl at its center. Raised by screw jack from the floor, the circle is a table where he sits writing. Light enters through small windows of rippling glass.

Sculpted and polished wood reflecting the light of ages. A time when ancestral speakers of this language had moved from earthen to wood houses. When words were still spoken to fires. A time when the pale green light of window glass was sand at the bottom of an ocean. The copper buried under a mountain. The redwood on which his pen and notebook rest, still waiting to be born.

Song of the Redwood Tree Excerpt from Song of the Redwood Tree
by Jerry Martien, Poet
Read his entire essay here



Designing and building the Poetry House
Poetry House Elevations
"Ah, to be a poet, to be open and awake and travel light like Basho, this seems like the spiritual path. Can I take tons of materials and tools with me on such a journey? It seems so unlikely, yet that is what I have tried to do. If architecture is frozen music, then Poetry House is my journey to that perfect chord".
Bruce Johnson: Artist, Builder, Craftsman

"It is almost as if Johnson is at once imposing his will on the wood by drawing on its surface while at the same time “listening” to the wood and working in harmony with it".
Michael Schwager, Sonoma State University



“Some people contend that art and craft are different”. I am a sculptor and would support the premise that you cannot have fine art without good craft. On the other hand superlative craft without art lacks vitality. We each find our own balance. I am a maker seeking to imbue my work with form and energy.”


What is a 'Poetry House'?
Poetry House is the empty space where attention resides,
Poetry House is the moment of insight,
Poetry House is the luminosity of spirit,
Poetry House is the house of being.



What makes sacred place?
When I think of my efforts to create a sacred building I am reminded of a photograph of a shirtless workman with large rough hands holding his bare infant. Those rough hands, that tender body; it is surprising yet profoundly beautiful that such hands can hold with such tenderness.

It is love not practice that makes this work. The posts of the poetry house are hewn and larger than they need to be. Like large hands they hold the interior space with great tenderness. May we hold each other with the same strength and tenderness.



Can the Poetry House find a beautiful site?
A contractor/builder friend who had apprenticed in Japan revealed to me that, some day, he would like to build a small temple. My instantaneous response was: “Wow! You can do that? Well I want to design and build a temple too.” Two decades later I gave myself a commission to do just that. And I have been the best client I ever had.

While I gave myself permission to build a small sacred building I did not have a building site. Undeterred I adopted the mantra, “If you build it they will come!”. I assumed that a beautiful building could eventually find a beautiful site. I therefore designed a building that could be taken apart and reassembled. So the Poetry House could be a precious building in a small cloistered garden or a unique writer’s hermitage amid an abundant natural landscape. Time will tell.