Tuesday, November 28, 6:30 pm
The Culture Center, 410 Columbus Avenue, Manhattan (focus on both books – sponsored by the Association of Literary Scholars, Critics and Writers - ALSCW). Introduction by Phillis Levin.
Sunday, October 29, 2:00 pm
Poets House, 10 River Terrace, Manhattan (focus on both books). Commentary by Cornelius Eady. Visit J. Chester Johnson at Poets House for more information.
Thursday, October 19, 6:30 pm
Church of the Heavenly Rest, 90th St and Fifth Avenue, Manhattan (focus on Auden, the Psalms, and Me).
Sunday, October 8, 1:00 pm
Trinity Church Wall Street, Broadway and Wall Street, Manhattan (focus on Auden, the Psalms, and Me).
Sunday, August 27, 10:00 am
St. Thomas Episcopal Church, 1 West 53rd off Fifth Avenue, Manhattan (focus on Auden, the Psalms, and Me).
About My Two 2017 Books
NOW AND THEN: SELECTED LONGER POEMS
PUBLISHED JANUARY 2017
The journey through Now And Then begins with an interracial murder in Arkansas and ends in the martyrdom of German theologian, Dietrich Bonhoeffer. In between, a delayed conversation between the poet and a long departed father, a poem given timbre by Ida B. Wells, and a paean to Martin Luther King, Jr., among other voices, create worlds where home and exile have much in common.
"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, Whitmans'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
“J. Chester Johnson is one of our country’s literary gems. From his work on the Book of Common Prayer with Auden to his chronicling and advocating for civil rights in the American South of his boyhood, Johnson offers rare glimpses into what William Carlos Williams called ‘news that stays news’. Elegant, truthful, heartfelt, spiritual, beautiful. This is a book to savor and admire. Highly recommend this impressive book.”
– Elizabeth Powell, Editor-in-Chief, Green Mountains Review
“In his latest volume, Now And Then: Selected Longer Poems, Chester Johnson has pushed beyond the boundaries of his shorter work and yet, happily, none of the qualities that make a Chester Johnson poem so distinctive and memorable—their plain speak and verbal music, their erudition and common sense—have been lost in the transition. Here, we encounter a poet as comfortable with narrative as he is with lyric, a poet working at the height of his powers, a poet challenging himself—and us—with poems that are not afraid to engage with the politics and the issues and the events of our time.”
– Davis McCombs, Director, Program in Creative Writing and Translation, University of Arkansas; former winner, Yale Series of Younger Poets
AUDEN, THE PSALMS, AND ME
COMING IN SEPTEMBER 2017
This book tells the personal, untold story of the retranslation of the psalms contained in the current Book of Common Prayer of the Episcopal Church, which version has now become a standard. Johnson describes the role on the drafting committee played by the poet, W. H. Auden, whom the author replaced.
“J. Chester Johnson has written a wonderfully cautious, sensitive, and even-handed book. He is to be praised for his verbal attentiveness throughout, and not least for his orderly and sculpted expository style. He illuminates aspects of Auden’s faith, confronts the sometimes thorny issues that face a church sensitive to accusations of remoteness from the contemporary, and modestly explains his own origins and assumptions. A delightful book.”
–John Fuller, poet and author of W. H. Auden: A Commentary
“J. Chester Johnson tells a remarkable and illuminating triple story: the story of the English psalms in the past and present, the story of W. H. Auden's profound engagement with the language of the psalter, and the story of his engagement with Auden, the psalms, and the church. I hope this well-told story will be widely read.”
– Edward Mendelson, Professor of English and Comparative Literature; Lionel Trilling Professor in the Humanities, Columbia University, and literary executor of the estate of W. H. Auden