Richard St. John eloquently illuminates the human condition in surprising and profound ways in this collection of poems. He finds genuine grace in the midst of suffering and despair as well as in mundane moments of daily life. These are powerful poems with clear-eyed empathy and uncanny insight.
Beautiful voice and measured use of cultural allusions give this book dignity and maturity…. A very melodious and inspirational writer.
—Diane Wakoski, 2004 T. S. Eliot judge
What remarkable, original, and intelligent poems these are—without an echo of imitation or lingering indebtednesses. Above all, these are poems of felt intelligence—a quality one associates with Richard Wilbur or John Donne and too few others. Richard St. John is among the select few. All you have to do is read “J. Paul Getty at Forest Lawn,” “Circling Walden Pond,” “Walking with the Lady with Three Dogs,’” “This Light” and the poignant “The Chokeberry and the Mower: A Valediction” to be convinced. This book ranks among the best recent books of poems I have ever read, and I mean every word of that.
—Samuel Hazo, International Poetry Forum
The Pure Inconstancy of Grace is a terrific book. Each poem compels our attention. Richard St. John’s work is characterized by precision of language, compassion, and a sense of the sacred writ both large and small. These narratives and homilies will stay with you long after the book is closed. You’ll go back and read them again.
Whether revisiting the legend of St. Julian the Hospitaller or speaking (aptly enough) as John the Baptist’s head upon a plate, these poems exhibit a masterful use of tone and formal elegance (see, for example, the delightful twist on rime royal in ”J. Paul Getty at Forest Lawn”). But for all their structural intricacies, these are poems whose true grace lies in their ability to see inside the world, to get at “the black and lapidary heart of things.” St. John’s voice makes a most welcome debut in this moving collection of poems, a gift to the art of poetry.
—D. A. Powell, University of San Francisco
Richard St. John is a master craftsman who eloquently illuminates the human condition in surprising and profound ways. He finds genuine grace in the midst of suffering and despair, as well as in mundane moments of daily life. These are powerful poems with clear-eyed empathy and uncanny insight.
—Maurya Simon, University of California-Riverside