John High

Books

New Poetry
“Sometimes questions are answers and answers are questions in these dialogic verses. Death, love, history, sorrow, language, joy and prayer are subjects masterfully interwoven in John High’s bardic and ecstatic lines. ‘you are everything you are not’ is an exquisite sequence. In the words of the poet: ‘The story never leaves you.’” —Uche Nduka
Poetry
"Imagine a novel whose setting is dark and indeterminate, whose nameless characters are shadowy, and whose circular plot unfolds timelessly -- and you will be imagining John High's 'a book of unknowing.' These powerful poems, whose language rushes past in a torrent of disorienting yet evocative images and sounds, will pull you out of this world and into another, that matters a great deal more, where all that you think you know becomes doubtful." —Norman Fischer
"...High turns elegy to discovery while retaining the truth of sadness, and matches brevity with a generosity that not only grasps, but also loves, the human condition." —Cole Swensen
About John High's Prose
“Soaked in night visions and pierced through by jagged memory, John High's work tells that peculiarly American story in which, as Faulkner once said, 'The past isn't forgotten, it isn't even the past.’ John High's Virginia backwaters call to mind the feral, hallucinogenic American landscapes of Cormac McCarthy's Child of God, as well as Faulkner's Sanctuary…” —Albert Mobilio
“In what is best described as a book length prose poem, he [John High] attempts to uncover the un-narrative that lies beneath all tales of loss and redemption. In this tale set in Russia, he moves unhesitatingly across centuries, fusing the spiritual travails of the Middle Ages with the economic woes of post-Soviet life. This self-reflexive tour de force reminds us that high art need not be free of religious and political ideation. His prose gives the lie to the distinctions between poetry and fiction; its intricately gnomic language suggests the eternal and the apocalyptic almost offhandedly, without resorting to elaborate stagecraft. High conjures dreamscapes which retain the bracing tactility of the real...—The Village Voice Literary Supplement
Poetry Translation

Talking God's Radio Show

"In High's Southern gothic, Jesse Rivers, half African-American and half white, looks back over a lifetime struggle that has put him in numerous psych wards, and tells about his crucial 15th year, in 1965, when his life seemed to crack open. After his mother dies, and his best friend, Charlie Monroe, is killed by the cops, Jesse and his retarded sister, Amy, end up in "Camp Jesus," run by "Mama" Evangeline. Jesse escapes after Amy commits suicide and "Mama" tries to make him an evangelical radio announcer. In the sleazy Shakhoe district of Richmond, Va., Jesse hooks up with a fellow Camp Jesus escapee, Tyrone Christopher, to form a dance team that performs at a strip joint owned by a transvestite mob boss. Lee, Tyrone's lover, lurks in the background: murder is in the air, as is betrayal.... High imparts a strong sense of the price Jesse pays for psychic survival."

Publisher's Weekly


“The red-light district of Richmond, Virginia in the mid-sixties is the backdrop and High is the ultimate time traveler-recreating the arcane of a world that seems long gone but is actually steeped in present day time. The book is airtight and explosive and belongs on the same shelf as James Ellroy's My Dark Places and Leslie Silko's Ceremony.”

—Lewis Warsh


“Soaked in night visions and pierced through by jagged memory, John High's work tells that peculiarly American story in which, as Faulkner once said, 'The past isn't forgotten, it isn't even the past.’ John High's Virginia backwaters call to mind the feral, hallucinogenic American landscapes of Cormac McCarthy's Child of God, as well as Faulkner's
Sanctuary…”

—Albert Mobilio