St. John is a master of both the brief lyric poem and longer narrative sequences, such as his book-length poem, “Dreamer,” which explores the Middle Passage and the heritage of slavery. Communion gathers poems from three out-of-print volumes with new poems. Raised by West Indian grandparents who instilled in him a deep sense of family and social history, St. John was a waiter, laborer, gambler, and civil servant before settling into teaching at Portland State University. He makes these experiences vividly alive in poems which are by turns fierce and gentle, and always compelling.
“St. John’s idiosyncratic and evocative collection moves with a Stein-like sense of aphorism… [he] seems to search for a productive relationship between his art and politics, and the results are often powerful.” —Publishers Weekly
“It’s that combination of feeling, human solidity, bodyness with mystery, an otherworldly eye, that attracts me to Primus St. John’s work.” —Poetry Flash