On October 15th, 2018, J. Chester Johnson was one of two featured poets (the other, Elizabeth Powell) at the iconic venue, The Troubadour, in London, England. Primarily known as a famed place for musicians, The Troubadour has over the last two decades become well-known as a special place in London for poetry. J. Chester Johnson had the opportunity to read his verse, principally from his latest book of poetry, NOW AND THEN: SELECTED LONGER POEMS, which was published in 2017.
J. Chester Johnson was the featured speaker for “The Feast of the Dedication of Grosvenor Chapel” the afternoon of October 14th, 2018; this Chapel was the church where Dwight David Eisenhower, Commander of the Allied Forces at the time, and his staff routinely worshiped while stationed in England during World War II. This was one of several presentations given at a variety of venues in London and Oxford for his latest book (published in 2017), AUDEN, THE PSALMS, AND ME, the story of the retranslation of the psalms as contained in the American Book of Common Prayer, for which the eminent poet, W. H. Auden, and Johnson were the two poets on the drafting committee for the retranslation.
J. Chester Johnson signs his ‘In The Rows’, a poem displayed as part of the celebration for Rev. Canon James G. Callaway, who served for over 34 years on the clergy staff of Trinity Church, located at Wall Street and Broadway in lower Manhattan in New York City. – Photo by Elizabeth Powell
J. Chester Johnson stands beside the all-weather display of his iconic poem, "St. Paul's Chapel," that has been the memento card since 2002 at the Chapel, located in downtown Manhattan, which survived the 9/11 attacks.
On November 3rd, 2016 at the memorial service for the poet Deborah Danner, the African-American woman who was shot and killed in her apartment by New York City police on Tuesday, October 18th, J. Chester Johnson recited pieces of Ms. Danner's verse.
J. Chester Johnson reads his poem, "St. Paul's Chapel," at the Calling of the Names ceremony 15 years after 9/11. Photo Credit: Nina Roberts
J. Chester Johnson reads his poetry in the "Four Way Books And Friends" program at the main NYU bookstore in New York City.
J. Chester Johnson and his wife, Freda, stand beside several of his quotes, associated with the installation of a pew from St. Paul’s Chapel into the 9/11 Tribute Center – both the pew and the quotes have been made part of the Tribute Center at Ground Zero in lower Manhattan in New York City.
J. Chester Johnson at the main entrance to Lambeth Palace, London, England, where Thomas Cranmer is said to have compiled the first BOOK OF COMMON PRAYER in 1549. J. Chester Johnson was one of two poets (the other being W. H. Auden) on the drafting committee for the retranslation of the Psalms, contained in the current version of the BOOK OF COMMON PRAYER, issued by the Episcopal Church (USA).
The Senior Committee of the Harvard Business School Club of New York held a discussion with a distinguished panel of business people who have included poetry in their lives, discussing how poetry forms the foundation for their success and how it has enhanced their lives and business careers. It took place on March 4, 2015 at Poets House. Speakers included (listen to audio): Lee Briccetti, Kate Cheney Chappell, J. Chester Johnson and Bruce McEver. To read more about this event or its speakers visit the HBSCNY web site.
J. Chester Johnson gave the Martin Luther King Jr. Birthday sermon at Trinity Wall Street (view video) in lower Manhattan on Sunday, January 18, 2015 at 11:15AM; previous MLK birthday speakers at Trinity have included Andrew Young, Jesse Jackson, among others.
A packed-house symposium on the Elaine Race Massacre, which occurred in the fall of 1919 on the Arkansas side of the Mississippi River Delta and in which more than hundred (and possibly hundreds of) African-Americans were killed, was held at St. Paul’s Chapel in New York City on September 20, 2014. Subsequently, an article entitled, “After Sins of the Fathers, Steps Toward Reconciliation,” was written by Lynn Goswick, associate editor of Trinity Wall Street, and published in THE EPISCOPAL NEW YORKER, fall 2014; the article describes, among other matters, the reconciliation journey that J. Chester Johnson, whose grandfather, Lonnie, joined in the Massacre, and Sheila Walker, whose great-uncles were victims, have taken together to dispel any remnants of adverse human and spiritual consequences from the racial conflagration. The article appears on page 21 of THE EPISCOPAL NEW YORKER.
An extensive interview was conducted of J. Chester Johnson by the poet and translator, Ann Cefola; the interview was published in its entirety in the June, 2015 edition of the literary journal, ILLUMINATIONS.
(See further details on my Blog.)
Symposium on The Elaine Race Massacre: The Racial Conflagration That Changed American History
Saturday, September 20th, 2014, 2:00pm-4:00pm at St. Paul's Chapel (See details on Blog)
In the fall of 1919, a brutal race massacre occurred on the Arkansas side of the Mississippi River delta, constituting perhaps the most deadly race massacre in the nation’s history, but also resulting in a Supreme Court decision in 1923 that provided legal underpinnings for the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s. The symposium will examine both the massacre and its aftermath.
John Fuller and J. Chester Johnson at the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford, England. John Fuller, English poet and author, is also Fellow Emeritus at Magdalen College, Oxford University.
Anne-Marie Fyfe and J. Chester Johnson outside the Troubadour in London. Born in Cushendall in the Glens of Antrim and now living in West London, the poet Anne-Marie Fyfe is the former chair of the Poetry Society (2006-2009); she founded and has run for seventeen years Coffee-House Poetry at the Troubadour.
(Click here to read full poem.)
"In The Rows":, A Poetic Tribute written by J. Chester Johnson to a friend, as it appears in the program employed for the ceremonial celebration of the friend’s thirty-four years of service as an Episcopal priest at Trinity Wall Street, the venerable, iconic church located in lower Manhattan in New York City.
A MASSACRE IN ARKANSAS – Facing Love and History with J. Chester Johnson, February 16, 2014
J. Chester Johnson and Freda with the poet Cornelius Eady and his wife, the novelist Sarah Micklem, at a Cave Canem event.
Edward Mendelson, literary executor and principal biographer for W. H. Auden and Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University, who wrote the introduction for St. Paul’s Chapel & Selected Shorter Poems, speaks about the book at its launch held in St. Paul’s Chapel, New York City.
At David Lehman’s book launch party on November 6, 2013 for his New and Selected Poems, this picture includes, among others, the poets: Vijay Seshadri, Tina Chang, Larry Joseph, David Lehman, and J. Chester Johnson. Photo © by Star Black.
Miller Williams, well-known poet who read at President Bill Clinton’s second inaugural, and J. Chester Johnson at a joint reading held in October, 2010 (Fayetteville, Arkansas).
Freda and J. Chester Johnson with the theologian, Barbara C. Crafton, and her husband, Q, after Chester spoke on the Elaine, Arkansas Race Massacre at a Black History Month event in Metuchen, New Jersey.
Poets and Readers for the St. Paul’s Chapel Poetry Festival, January 27, 2013, Organized by J. Chester Johnson; photo by Karlene Gordon.
J. Chester Johnson and Freda Johnson in Paris with the writer and activist, Frank Romano.
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- Damaged Heritage: The Elaine Race Massacre and A Story of Reconciliation, written by J. Chester Johnson, will be published by Pegasus Books on May 5, 2020. Click here for book cover image and more information.