Each Perfected Name

Richard St. John


The poems in Each Perfected Name are about many things: seeing the sacred in the ordinary, recalling the beloved fragility we all carry with us, and wondering what we should do in the world with the stories and symbols that shape us.

Richard St. John at Common Read, Queensborough Community College

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The poems in Each Perfected Name are about many things: seeing the sacred in the ordinary, recalling the beloved fragility we all carry with us, and wondering what we should do in the world with the stories and symbols that shape us. These meditative, conversational, yet carefully crafted poems are about Odysseus, Aristotle, and the G-20 Summit; planets, quarks, and stars; urban landscapes, “the problem of the soul,” and so much more.

Metaphor without irony and metaphor without allusion, though both may be lurking vaguely in the background, abound in St. John’s poems so that a richness of imagery (“among our holy oddities”) assaults our senses, and we see with eyes not quite ordinarily ours. 

—Jim Barnes

There is a gentleness to Richard St. John’s new book, and it permeates the thought, observation and expression of the poet, who is constantly noticing how one thing breathes into another. In these poems St. John’s presence is everywhere, and he takes in the world with gratitude, attention, and a tender scrutiny that moves the reader into his or her own “trapped divine” where objects, people, ideas and reverence, jostle and settle into new relationships. St. John is a careful guide and his words trace the workings of an open heart.

—Frank X. Gaspar, author of Late Rapturous


Publication Credits

Metaphysics of Thrushes
Second Birth
The Sparrows of Bahrain
Helsinki Accord
Penelope in Firelight (I)
The Moon, the Stars, the Missing Mass
Sparrow in the Supermarket
The Virtue That Makes All Others Possible
Irrefutable Logic of the Tiles

Vita Nuova
Succinct Meditations on Fire
Lost Turtle
“Dog Days” / A Conversation
Odysseus Alone (II)
The Wolf at Gubbio
Prom Night
Pluto 1
Faithfulness (III)
Inner Ear

December, New Millennium
Abhorrent Things
Pluto 2
Learning with the Lost
A Blessing in Baltimore
Triple Fence at Friendship Park, California
Maria’s Song
Argos (IV)
I Write to the G-­20 Leaders in Advance of  Their Pittsburgh Summit
Reading Shaw’s Play St. Joan, at the Solstice, on a Greyhound, Heading Home

“The Garden Will Come to You” /  A Conversation
Yet Another Resurrection Appearance
On Being Asked for a Poem That Embodies Non-­Anthropocentric Spirituality
After Reading Amichai’s Poem Called “Here,”  I Walk Past the Girls’ Softball Practice
Kant and His Manservant
Pluto 3
The Turning
All Hallows’ Eve
Elegy with Braids and Tulips
Each Perfected Name

About the Author


Richard St. John is a nationally published poet whose books include The Pure Inconstancy of Grace (Truman State University Press, 2005), runner up in the 2004 T. S. Eliot Prize for Poetry, and “Shrine” (2011), a chapbook. His work has also appeared in The Sewanee ReviewPoet Lore, and Chautauqua, as well as many other periodicals and anthologies. He has given readings across the country, connecting not only with literary audiences but also with listeners new to poetry.

He has degrees in English from Princeton University and the University of Virginia. In 2002, he completed a mid-career Loeb Fellowship at Harvard University. He lives in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, with his wife, Kate.

For more information, please visit: www.richardstjohnpoet.com




 "The Garden Will Come to You’ / A Conversation", Poetry Daily, Poem of the Day, March 13, 2015.

Richard on "Prosody" radio program

Lit Out Loud Podcast

What makes the collection a success is the honest empathy of St. John's speakers...St. John also displays a sharp imagistic eye, offering keen observation and clarity.

Fred Shaw, Pittsburgh City Paper, May 13, 2015 

Thought-provoking and soulful, Each Perfected Name is highly recommended.

Midwest Book Review, March 2015

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