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

Publications

Poetry and Prose:

Ceremonies (Concourse Press, 1984)
Sometimes Survival : A play for three voices (1987)
the lives of thomas—episodes & prayers (Five Fingers Press, 1991)
The Sasha Poems (Ex Nihilo Press, 1998)
The Desire Notebooks (Spuyten Duyvil, 1999)
Bloodline (Talisman House, 2002)
Talking God’s Radio Show (Spuyten Duyvil, 2006)
Here: A Poem for Billy High 1959-2004 (Talisman House, 2006)
A Book of Unknowing (Talisman House, 2010)
you are everything you are not (Talisman House, 2013)
Vanishing Acts (Talisman House, forthcoming 2016)

Translations:

Mapping Codes: A Collection of New Writing from Moscow to San Francisco (Five Fingers Review, 1990)
Blue Vitriol by Alexei Parschikov (with Michael Palmer and Michael Molnar) (Avec Books, 1994).
The Right to Err: Selected Poems of Nina Iskrenko (with Patrick Henry and Katya Olmstead) (Three Continents Press, 1995)
The Inconvertible Sky by Ivan Zhdanov (with Patrick Henry) (Talisman House, 1997)
Crossing Centuries: The New Generation in Russian Poetry (Talisman House, 2000)


you are everything you are not
“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


A Book of Unknowing
John High's poems, threaded together by narratives of childhood that span a century, are always immediate, grounded, and as fleeting as the moment. Throughout, High's art stays close to the heart. The music is visible.

—Matvei Yankelevich


Here
"In this book-length elegy rendered in the sparest strokes, the silence of the dead meets a Zen stillness centered in the author s own practice. John High handles his subject with the most delicate distance -- we never fully see the brother he mourns, but we sense him always, getting larger and larger, as only the dead can do, until he has become indistinguishable from the world he left. In this lovely book, 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


Talking God's Radio Show
“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


The Desire Notebooks
"...High's expansive opus, The Desire Notebooks, pulsates with fullness and loss. It's always startling to find yourself close to someone whose vibrant voice responds to every nuance of the breathing world, whose sentient experience is so awake that you find yourself awakened. This work roves through rituals of experience and imagination, taking us there."

—Frances Mayes


Crossing Centuries:
The New Russian Poetry

Crossing Centuries, including the work of approximately fifty translators and ninety poets, focuses on transformations in Russian poetry from the 1970s to the present with particular attention to the Brezhnev years and the profound changes in language and values that followed the collapse of the Soviet regime.