Up the Creek Without a Saddle

In this celebrated book, Up the Creek Without a Saddle, award-winning poet Jerry Johnson has created a universal memoir of life experiences. Animals, the natural world around us, people, first loves, loss, joy, and so much more breathes in his poetry full of treasured images. The words portray life on many levels, the images stay with you, and there is a feeling of kinship with what is described. It is a joy to read this book and to give it as a gift to others that will be treasured forever. Sixteen of the book’s 99 poems were beautifully set into song by Jon Gailmor and Pete Sutherland, two legendary Vermont master musicians. A FREE CD album of their songs accompanies the book. The publication of Up the Creek Without a Saddle marked the fulfillment of a dream for Jerry. He worked on this book for eight years. It includes his excellent artwork. The book is divided into four chapters: Gifts from Animals, Natural Things, The Human Element, Time and Place.


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Jerry & Howard Mosher

What comes shining through from Jerry Johnson’s touching new collection of poems, UP THE CREEK WITHOUT A SADDLE, is his great love of northern Vermont’s weather, seasons, animals, trees and wildflowers, farms and villages, mountains and rivers, and, most of all, independent spirit. UP THE CREEK WITHOUT A SADDLE is a lovely hymn to a beautiful place and a rural way of life that may well soon exist only in Mr. Johnson’s heartfelt poetry. His poems and the music of Jon Gailmor and Pete Sutherland are a lyrical celebration of the ‘Vermont Tradition’ at its best.

— Howard Frank Mosher, author of Points North and God’s Kingdom

Jerry Johnson has the true songwriter’s gift: his lyrics seem so simple, but that’s a deception. The more one listens — and the tunes are brilliantly served by the excellent Jon Gailmor and Pete Sutherland — the deeper they get. What a pleasure this album is!

— Sydney Lea, Poet Laureate of Vermont

Who needs therapy lights and energy drinks when you can read Up the Creek Without a Saddle? Jerry’s bareback collection is a good ride — a kind-hearted and optimistic antidote to so much dark elegy being written today. One by one, the poems lift the spirit. As a whole, it’s an album to savor all year round. Not only is Jerry Johnson a fine North Country balladeer, he just might qualify as Poet Laureate of what equestrians call Horse Nation.

— John Fusco, screenwriter-novelist, Hidalgo and The Highwaymen

Jerry Johnson’s voice from the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont is authentic and revealing of life led fully in the embrace of his land in all seasons, his beloved animal companions, his first-person knowing of the weather and what it means to live a life found nowhere else. I hope this poetry finds its way to the young who will surely be inspired, to the older ones among us whom he celebrates so warmly.

— Peggy Sapphire, author of In the End a Circle and A Possible Explanation

Jerry Johnson turned tunesmiths Jon Gailmor and Pete Sutherland loose on sixteen of his best Vermont poems: the result is a joyful blend of meditations and hoopla, with guitars, piano, banjo, fiddle, and melodies as original as the poems they celebrate.

— Geof Hewitt, author of The Perfect Heart: Selected & New Poems

These poems employ a host of techniques to bring us into a wonderful world: rhymes, rhythms, half-rhymes, unexpected images, familiar and unexpected turnings. Like the best lyrical poetry of all ages, the poems locate our hearts in a particular place. In this case, it’s rural Vermont with all its beauty, hard-work, joys and sorrows. Set to the music of Jon Gailmor and Pete Sutherland, the poems in Up the Creek Without a Saddle are at once fresh, inviting, heart-felt and familiar. They resonate with real life.

— Ray Hudson, author of Ivory and Paper: Adventures In and Out of Time
and Moments Rightly Placed: An Aleutian Memoir

Jerry’s poems resonate with a crystalline clarity and conviction, a true paean to rural Vermont.

— Lynda Graham-Barber, author of KokoCat – Inside and Out