June 13, 2016

J. Chester Johnson Appeared at the Cornelia St. Café on Sunday, June 26th

J. Chester Johnson appeared at the Cornelia St. Café, 29 Cornelia Street, West Village, NYC, at 6:00PM, Sunday, June 26th. His presentation was a key part of the evening’s program devoted to the theme, Why Auden Matters, and examined the famous Auden poem, September 1, 1939, particularly the poem’s strong appeal over the internet to a large number of people following the 9/11 terrorists attacks in 2001. J. Chester Johnson will have two books pubished over the next fifteen months: NOW AND THEN: SELECTED LONGER POEMS (St. Johann Press) and AUDEN, THE PSALMS AND ME (Church Publishing Incorporated), the story of the retranslation of the Psalms, now contained in THE BOOK OF COMMON PRAYER of The Episcopal Church; the Auden book will give particular attention to the participation by W. H. Auden for the retranslation project.

J. Chester Johnson contributed two presentations at the event: one on the collaboration he had with W. H. Auden for the retranslation of the Psalms and the other on Auden’s famous poem, "September 1, 1939". See access to written comments on the Auden collaboration by J. Chester Johnson below. His remarks on "September 1, 1939" will be published elsewhere: the date and venue for that publication will become available on this Blog.

If you wish to see remarks by J. Chester Johnson from the event, click here for a PDF.

Press Release by Brooklyn Social Media:
With the BBC’s Graham Fawcett and Poet J. Chester Johnson
Joined by Charlotte Maier, Matthew Aughenbaugh, and singer Lindsey Nakatani
Sunday, June 26, at 6PM, Cornelia Street Café

Cornelia Street Café presents an evening contemplating and celebrating WH Auden and why he matters now. Graham Fawcett, an acclaimed and entertaining Auden scholar, poet, translator, and lecturer, will discuss why Auden’s work has such lasting significance. He will be joined by actors Charlotte Maier and Matthew Aughenbaugh who will read a selection of Auden’s poetry. Poet J. Chester Johnson, a collaborator of Auden’s, will discuss the poem September 1, 1939, and why it became the anthem of 9/11. The evening will conclude with a performance by singer Lindsay Nakatani of Benjamin Britten’s: On this Island,” a song cycle based on Auden’s poems.

WH Auden (1907-1973) was a giant among poets of his generation; a master-craftsman of metrical rhythms, and a wonderfully adventurous organist of the English language. Nourished by his native Yorkshire and the treasures of the Anglo- Saxon and Middle English; traveler to Iceland, China, Spain and Berlin; close quarters commentator on politics, religion, philosophy, art and human relations, Auden translated his gifted perceptions into some of the finest and most substantial poems England and the world have ever seen.

Auden’s “September 1, 1939” become an essential—even prophetic—poem after 9/11 when New Yorkers grieved the sudden loss of nearly three thousand citizens. As Adam Gopnick wrote in the New Yorker. “At the beginning of the new century, he is an indispensable poet. Even people who don't read poems often turn to poetry at moments when it matters, and Auden matters now.” This poem and many others will be read and discussed.


Graham Fawcett tours England giving his poetry lecture-performances-with-readings Seven Olympians (including Dickinson) and World Poets on the life and work of individual poets from Homer to Heaney, among them Whitman, Lorca, Auden and Dylan Thomas. He presents illustrated lectures on poetry and art—from Homer to the present day—and on Dante’s Divine Comedy (The Book You Always Meant To Read). BBC Radio Drama commissioned his verse translation of Dante’s La Vita Nuova. He taught the world poetry canon in English and translation for many years for London’s Poetry School and Italian-English translation at Goldsmiths College. He has interviewed poets in the US including Gunn, Rich, Milosz, Kinnell and Hass, for BBC Radio 3, where he has broadcast for 25 years on literature, music and Italy.

J. Chester Johnson is a poet who collaborated with WH Auden on the retranslation of the Psalms for THE BOOK OF COMMON PRAYER (book of liturgy for The Episcopal Church). The signature poem, ‘St. Paul’s Chapel,’ in Johnson’s book of verse, ST. PAUL’S CHAPEL & SELECTED SHORTER POEMS (now in its second printing), has been used since 2002 as the memento card at St. Paul’s Chapel, which miraculously stood after 9/11, becoming the relief center (where Johnson volunteered during the cleanup period) for the recovery workers at Ground Zero. He has appeared for interviews and readings on the BBC, the History Channel, and NBC; and his work has been featured in The New York Times, Best American Poetry Blog, International Poetry Review, and Green Mountains Review. Johnson has two books being published over the next fifteen months: NOW AND THEN: SELECTED LONGER POEMS and AUDEN, THE PSALMS AND ME, the story of the retranslation of the Psalms for The Episcopal Church, including the participation by W. H. Auden.

Charlotte Maier is a stage, film and television actor. Born in Chicago, she lives in New York City. Her work includes the following:  BROADWAY:  Act One; The Columnist; God of Carnage; Inherit the Wind; Losing Louie; Dinner at Eight; A Delicate Balance; Abe Lincoln in Illinois; Picnic; Arsenic and Old Lace. OFF-BROADWAY: By The Water and The Last Yankee (MTC); Witnessed by the World (59E59); Balm in Gilead (Circle Rep); REGIONAL: Goodman Theater; Westport Country Playhouse; Berkshire Theatre Festival; Spoleto Festival; Merrimack Rep. FILM: Custody; Two Weeks Notice; The Pink Panther; Music and Lyrics. TELEVISION: Elementary; Person of Interest; Boardwalk Empire.

Matthew Aughenbaugh has been acting for over twenty years in performances ranging from Shakespeare to Musical Theater having trained at The Baltimore School for the Arts, The Boston Conservatory and Emerson College where he studied with world-renowned voice teacher Kristin Linkletter. Most recently he was seen as Malvolio in Twelfth Night and Snout the Tinker in Midsummer Nights Dream for New Place Players in Brooklyn, New York. Having taken some time away from the stage to help build a school for orphans in Tanzania and teach English in Bangkok, Thailand, he has returned to New York to pursue his first love, the theater.

Soprano Lindsey Nakatani’s lyric quality of tone and natural stage presence has already marked her as a captivating performer. Last summer Ms. Nakatani returned to the Caramoor Summer Music Festival as an Apprentice Artist where she performed in multiple solo concerts and as Sister Alice in the chorus of Dialogues des Carmélites. Ms. Nakatani was most recently seen in the role of Ilia in Mozart’s Idomeneo with the Princeton Opera Alliance in New Jersey. In recent performances Ms. Nakatani has also been seen as Serpetta in The Juilliard School’s production of La Finta Giardiniera as well as Rosaura in Juilliard’s production of Le Donne Curiose. In past summers Ms. Nakatani has been a participant of such esteemed programs as the International Vocal Artist Institute, The Franz-Schubert Institute, OperaWorks, Opera on the Avalon and the Caramoor Sumer Music Festival. Ms. Nakatani received her Bachelor of Music Degree from the Juilliard School in 2013 and her Master’s Degree at Mannes The New College of Music in 2015. Ms. Nakatani is a student of Ms. Amy Burton.