poem index

poet

David St. John

1949- , Fresno , CA , United States
Chancellor 2017-
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David St. John was born in Fresno, California, on July 24, 1949. He received his BA in 1974 from California State University, Fresno, and an MFA from the University of Iowa.

His many books of poetry include The Last Troubadour (Ecco, 2017); The Window (Arctos Press, 2014); The Auroras (HarperCollins, 2012); The Face: A Novella in Verse (HarperPerennial, 2005); Prism (2002); The Red Leaves of Night (HarperCollins, 1999); and Study for the World’s Body: New and Selected Poems (1994), which was nominated for the National Book Award.

He is also the author of the volume of essays and interviews Where the Angels Come Toward Us (White Pine Press, 1995) and coeditor, with Cole Swenson, of American Hybrid: A Norton Anthology of New Poetry (W. W. Norton, 2009). He is also the author of two libretti: one for Donald Crockett’s opera The Face, which is based on St. John’s book of the same name, and one for Frank Ticheli’s choral symphony The Shore.

The poet Robert Hass says of St. John’s writing:

“It’s not just gorgeous, it is go-for-broke gorgeous. It is made out of sentences, sweeping through and across the meticulous verse stanzas, that could have been written, for their velvet and intricate suavity, by Henry James.”

St. John is the recipient of many honors and awards, including both the Award in Literature and the Prix de Rome Fellowship from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Discovery/The Nation Prize, the George Drury Smith Award from the Beyond Baroque Literary Arts Foundation, and the O. B. Hardison Prize from the Folger Shakespeare Library. He has also received several National Endowment for the Arts Fellowships and a Guggenheim Fellowship. In 2016 he was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He was elected a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets in 2017.

St. John currently teaches in the PhD Program in Creative Writing and Literature and is the Chair of English at the University of Southern California. He lives in Venice Beach, California.


Bibliography

The Last Troubadour (Ecco, 2017)
The Window (Arctos Press, 2014)
The Auroras (HarperCollins, 2012)
The Face: A Novella in Verse (HarperPerennial, 2005)
Prism (Arctos Press, 2002)
The Red Leaves of Night (HarperCollins, 1999)
In the Pines: Lost Poems 1972-1997 (White Pine Press, 1998)
Study for the World’s Body: New and Selected Poems(Perennial, 1994)
Terraces of Rain: An Italian Sketchbook (Recursos De Santa Fe, 1991)
No Heaven (Houghton Mifflin, 1985)
The Shore (1980)
Hush (Houghton Mifflin, 1976)

by this poet

poem

Trust me I’m really trying to pay attention
     but it’s harder every day

& so I begin to trust only in appearances not
     “authenticity”—that half truth—

Growing so precisely redacted it’s even less
     now than what it once seemed

So I can’t help it & maybe I’m doing

poem
You ask me again this evening
          at what price

Does wisdom finally come
          in any life

Or at any age & now I think
          I know

The answer swear to me that
          when I tell you   

It is only everything you believe 

You will travel as far from this city
          as you can before
2
poem
It was there, in that little town
On top of the mountain, they walked,
Francesco and Chiara,
That's who they were, that's what
They told themselves—a joke, their joke
About two saints, failed lovers held apart
From the world of flesh, Francis and Clare,
Out walking the old city, two saints,
Sainted ones, holy,