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

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 calm contemplation of emptiness penetrates through these pages. Painting negative space on a rich canvas, or voicing ‘the silence of language’ through dialogues is as difficult as it is ‘most cherished.’ The gracious flow of lines, undulating tunes, and resurfacing motives meander over a landscape simultaneously familiar and foreign. They originate from the past, brush against the present and stretch into the future. The yearning, though hidden, is keen: ‘black water eddies along the shore.’ Hold your breath before you wade into this deep river that threatens to dissolve the self and reach the other mind. It is worth the risk.”

—Zhang Er


“Like Prometheus bound to his rock, warning us that we saw but didn’t see, heard but misunderstood, John High’s newest book introduces a fresh set of interlocutors. Completing his trilogy of Books, in many ways this is the book of the untold: muted yet deafening, warm yet cold, beautiful yet disfigured, still yet bloody, dead yet incredibly alive. The particulars in High’s poems are so sublime that you feel a beginning crossing roads with an end at the very moment that you’re blinking.

— Willie Perdomo