J. Chester Johnson has written verse for more than forty years. Over this period, his work has received praise from writers and poets spanning several decades – from, among others, Poet Laureate Allen Tate and Nobel Laureate I. B. Singer to current, well-recognized poets, such as Molly Peacock, Major Jackson, Lawrence Joseph and Vijay Seshadri.


NOW AND THEN: SELECTED LONGER POEMS


Now and Then by J Chester Johnson

“The scope of NOW AND THEN is epic. It provides its readers with the same amplitude of intelligence, passion and formal achievement as our great American epics – Melville’s MOBY DICK, Whitman’s LEAVES OF GRASS, and Ginsberg’s FALL OF AMERICA. It is a book of fierce spiritual and moral witness, energy and power.”
Lawrence Joseph

Buy J.Chester Johnson's works at Amazon


AUDEN, THE PSALMS, AND ME


AUDEN THE PSAMLS AND ME BY JCHESTER JOHNSON

To be published by Church Publishing, Inc., the publishing arm of the Episcopal Church, in September, 2017.

The personal story of the retranslation of the Psalms now contained in the Episcopal Book of Common Prayer.

Auden the Psalms and me available at Amazon




ST. PAUL’S CHAPEL & SELECTED SHORTER POEMS


St. Paul's Chapel Selected Shorter Poems by J. Chester Johnson

“Undoubtedly, this is a work headed for literary permanence in our collective ear.” - Major Jackson







Buy J. Chester Johnson on Amazon.com





FOR CONDUCT AND INNOCENTS


Johnson’s drama in verse, “For Conduct And Innocents,” about the martyr and 20th century theologian, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, was presented as a multi-media event (drama, music, dance, film) on Oct. 18, 2015 at Trinity Wall Street with nearly 50 performers participating.
Click here to see the full performance.

To read the full text, click here.


“I love the Bonhoeffer play...The whole dynamic of moral indignation and spiritual ardor, combining and recombining there in endless variation – a quality the lyrics also possess – made the reading fascinating.”
Vijay Seshadri

“What an amazing undertaking – so impressive in scope, intent and understanding. This must have taken years of energy.”
Molly Peacock


ELAINE RACE MASSACRE

Elaine Race Massacre by J. Chester Johnson

Johnson’s literary work, Elaine Race Massacre, was presented as a multi-media production (dramatic reading, music, dance, and visual images) on February 19th at Trinity Church Wall Street. The piece is written in the form of persona voices with prose and poetry being employed for historical pertinence and lyrical effect. The Elaine Race Massacre of 1919, which occurred in a rural area on the Arkansas side of the Mississippi River Delta, may be the most significant murderous attack against African-Americans in our country’s history, but out of the brutality and death rose a case, Moore v. Dempsey, that was decided by the U. S. Supreme Court in 1923 and that breathed life, for the first time, into the 14th Amendment (equal protection under the law), providing the underpinnings to the civil rights movement. The persona voices in the performance included massacre victims, members of the Supreme Court, and the genuine American hero, Scipio Africanus Jones, the African-American lawyer from Little Rock who represented black sharecroppers, found guilty of murder in unfair and rapid trials immediately following the cessation of the massacre.


About the Author

J. Chester Johnson is a poet, essayist, and translator. His writings have been published domestically and abroad and translated into several languages. Johnson has authored numerous volumes of poetry, including St. Paul’s Chapel & Selected Shorter Poems, second edition (St. Johann Press); the collection’s signature poem remains the memento card for the thousands of weekly visitors to the iconic chapel that survived the 9/11 terrorists’ attacks at Ground Zero. As The New York Times noted, “‘St. Paul’s Chapel’ has been used for the church’s memento card for more than ten years.” In January 2017, a companion volume authored by Johnson, Now And Then: Selected Longer Poems, was published (St. Johann Press). Johnson and W. H. Auden served as the two poets on the drafting committee for the retranslation of the psalms, which is the version contained in the current edition of the Book of Common Prayer of the Episcopal Church; the retranslation has been adopted by Lutherans in Canada and the United States and by the Anglican Church of Canada; additionally, it was adopted as the preferred (now, permitted) psalm translation until the Church of England produced its own version in 2000. In the fall of 2017, his book, Auden, The Psalms And Me, the story of the retranslation and part memoir, part history, part literary criticism, will be published by Church Publishing, Inc., the publishing arm of the Episcopal Church. Johnson has also written on the American Civil Rights Movement; at the request of the Episcopal Church, he authored the Litany of Offense and Apology in poetry and prose for the national Day of Repentance (October 4, 2008) when the Episcopal Church formally apologized, with the Presiding Bishop officiating, for its role in transatlantic slavery and related evils; the piece is one of several works constituting the J. Chester Johnson Collection in the Civil Rights Archives at Queens College (New York City). Johnson has read his work at Harvard University, the National Cathedral and on the BBC.

J. Chester Johnson, born in Chattanooga, Tennessee, spent his youth in Monticello, Arkansas, a small town located on the cusp of the Mississippi River Delta in southeast Arkansas. He has lived most of his adult life in New York City and is married to Freda Stern Johnson; they have two children. For over three decades, in addition to his writing, Johnson owned and ran a financial advisory firm that concentrated on debt management for states, large local governments, and public authorities; he also served as Deputy Assistant Secretary of the U. S. Treasury Department during the Carter Administration. Johnson was educated at Harvard College and the University of Arkansas (Distinguished Alumnus Award, 2010).

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NOTABLE

- Video for Auden, the Psalms, and Me authored by J. Chester Johnson. Click here for access.

- J. Chester Johnson Is Interviewed on the Televised ‘In The Arena’ Program. Click here for the interview.

- Upcoming Events for the Two 2017 Books by J. Chester Johnson. Click here for information.

- Distinguished Alumnus J. Chester Johnson Spoke on April 26th & 27th, 2017 at the University of Arkansas. Click here for more information.

- Reflection and Reconciliation: The Elaine Race Massacre – Delta Cultural Center, Helena, Arkansas on Sunday, April 23, 2017 Click here for more information.

- MULTI-MEDIA PERFORMANCE: PERSONA VOICES FROM THE LITERARY WORK, “ELAINE RACE MASSACRE,” WRITTEN BY J. CHESTER JOHNSON Was Held At Trinity Church: SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 19TH. Click here for more information.

- J. Chester Johnson Signs "In The Rows". Click here for more information.

- J. Chester Johnson With Display of His Iconic Poem “St. Paul’s Chapel” Click here for more information.

- J. Chester Johnson Reads Poetry at Deborah Danner's Memorial Click here for more information.

- J. Chester Johnson reads his poem, "St. Paul's Chapel," at the Calling of the Names ceremony 15 years after 9/11. Click here for more information.

- J. Chester Johnson is featured in NBC New York article. Click for more information.

- J. Chester Johnson appeared at the Cornelia St. Café, 29 Cornelia Street, West Village, NYC; 6:00PM, Sunday, June 26th. Click for more information.

- Based on multiple requests, the serialized article, Evanescence: The Elaine Race Massacre, published in Green Mountains Review, is being reposted. Click here to access the composite, complete article.

- J. Chester Johnson read his poetry at the main NYU bookstore, 8th St./Broadway, in New York, 6:00PM, Thursday, April 14. Click for more information.

- Appearance at Heavenly Rest Episcopal Church, 90th and Fifth Avenue, Manhattan, NYC, on Thursday, Feb. 25th, at 6:30PM. For more information, click to blog.

- Moderator for reading/discussion by Reginald Dwayne Betts at Trinity Wall Street, Parish Center, 2 Rector Street, NYC, on Sunday, Feb. 21st, 2016. Click here for commentary on Betts’ poetry by J. Chester Johnson.

- Presentation at 9/11 Tribute Center (Ground Zero in New York City), Tuesday, December 15, 2015 (click here for photos and more information)

- “For Conduct and Innocents” A Multimedia Performance, Based On The Drama In Verse By J. Chester Johnson (click for more information, performance and text)
Took place on October 18, 2015 at Trinity Church, New York, NY

- Posted on The Best American Poetry Blog – "Working with W. H. Auden: Illuminating Interview with J. Chester Johnson in ILLUMINATIONS"

- J. Chester Johnson interview in ILLUMINATIONS Magazine (click for more information and interview)

- Lecture on Dietrich Bonhoeffer: Theologian and Martyr (click for more information and written remarks)
Took place at Trinity Wall Street, Broadway and Wall, NYC, Sunday, June 14, 2015

- Ricks On Dylan (Bob, Not Thomas), published in Literary Matters (click for more information and full article)

- Click for info, written remarks and audio of "Poetry: Uniting Commerce and Verse to Enhance Life and Work"
Panel discussion held on March 4th at Poets House, NY, NY sponsored by the Senior Committee of the Harvard Business School Club of New York

- Honoring Martin Luther King Jr. with a sermon at Trinity Wall Street, January 18th, 2015
Click on link above to watch video. Provided by Trinity Wall Street.

- “Auden: Defender at Dusk,” published by Green Mountains Review in late 2014. (click for more information and full article)

- Article in THE EPISCOPAL NEW YORKER (click for more information and full article)
“After Sins of the Fathers, Steps Toward Reconciliation,” written by Lynn Goswick

- Upcoming: J. Chester Johnson will be interviewed by Ann Cefola
in the June, 2015 edition of the literary journal, Illuminations.

- Downtown Panel Will Tackle Legacy of One of Nation's Deadliest Race Riots
By Irene Plagianos on DNAinfo New York

- Symposium on The Elaine Race Massacre: The Racial Conflagration That Changed American History
Held on Saturday, September 20th, 2014, at St. Paul's Chapel, New York, NY (See details on Blog)

- "In The Rows": A Poetic Tribute

- A Massacre in Arkansas: Facing Love and History
Published on Best American Poetry Blog

- Johnson Was Featured Poet at Kairos Poetry Café – November 17, 2013
St. John's Lutheran Church, 81 Christopher Street, New York, NY

- Mogadishu and Verse
Tom Sleigh at the Center for the Humanities, CUNY Graduate Center. Article Published in Literary Matters

- Becoming and Unbecoming Henri Faust, Part I
A four-part series of articles published on Best American Poetry Blog

- Becoming and Unbecoming Henri Faust, Part II


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