Proceeds from the sale of Shadow Act will benefit the James W. Foley Legacy Foundation, advocating for the freedom of all Americans held hostage abroad and promoting the safety of journalists worldwide.

In his second collection—a powerful act of documentary poetics a decade in the making—Daniel Brock Johnson chronicles the perils and joys of fatherhood alongside a shattering tragedy that plays out thousands of miles away. Nearly two years after the poet’s closest friend, journalist James Foley, went missing, he was executed by ISIS in Syria. In this poetic daybook like no other, Johnson often speaks directly to his missing friend—“I don’t know, Jim, where you are,” even long after his death.

Page to page, Foley haunts the book—as the poet hails the birth of children, recounts hunting for the body of a neighbor’s missing cat, and, later, pores over the hand-written pages that Foley smuggled out of a Libyan prison in his shoe. Johnson crafts a vibrant, urgent collection that pulses with the terror and hardship Foley faced, the anguish of those he left behind, and the everlasting friendship between the two men. During a time of great collective trauma and mourning, this heartfelt, formally rich collection tackles the question: “How do you go on living, loving, and creating in the face of unthinkable loss?”

Praise for Shadow Act: An Elegy for Journalist James Foley

“A grieving achievement, a collection of heaving force and tenderness, exploring ‘absence, presence, & the shining, alchemical ever-presence of absence.’’”
Nina MacLaughlin, Boston Globe

“These poems—both stark and loving— are an act of documentary poetics, an archive of a life, and a tribute to a friendship. Daniel Johnson presents us with the facts of James Foley’s life, and the echoes of his death. Foley, in these pages, embraces the shadow, even as he is—always—moving into the light. A question is asked: ‘What do we do with the body?’ And the heartbreaking answer comes: ‘And what do we do, what do we do without?’”
Nick Flynn, author of Another Bullshit Night in Suck City

“Reading Daniel Johnson’s Shadow Act, I feel like I got to know Jim Foley all over again. His character is both elusive and wonderfully present, if mainly in brief, sharply illuminated bursts. Johnson evokes his eerily resonant smile, always with one eye towards the horizon, in deft, darting language that doesn’t waste a word. Jim’s comings and goings, in and out of often exotic locales, contrast with the intimacy of Johnson’s domestic life, the love within a family that grows steadily and continuously over the course of the book.”
Clare Morgana Gillis, one of the journalists captured and detained alongside Foley in Libya in 2011

“Death may take away a lot of things but not our words, not our stories, not our memories, and certainly not our desire to shape meaning in the face of all the darkness. The world may deliver terrible things, but it can never outweigh the music of friendship, beauty, insight and courage. These poems are simple in the very way that oxygen is simple … and just as vital. Johnson has done something that James Joyce called on us to do: to recreate life out of life.”
Colum McCann, National Book Award-winning author of Let the Great World Spin and Apeirogon