From Kirkus Reviews
The opening lines of the first poem in St.Johns sixth volume introduce his odd and murky intentions: The figure you/Remains the speculative whip of my aesthetic. Throughout this repetitive collection, St. John (Univ. of So. Cal. professor) sacrifices clarity for sultry ambiencehis uncertain diction fails to support the very definition of love he hopes to record. Instead, his poems trade in romantic banalities and lame sententiousness (Peace is where you find it); his oily eroticism, however cinematic in style, reads like scenes from a cheap European soft-core movie, with the titilating parts cut out. St Johns lovers are all anticipation and post-coital sadness (Streaks of sweat on satin sheets); his sexual vocabulary leaves too much to the imagination, his preferred adjectives being naked, nude, and bare. In Two, a tepid bit of sapphism, the poet lingers on scarlet nipples and pubic hair with a wild fox blaze, but more typically St. John walks especially unromantic streets and, elsewhere, smells a sexual musk. St. Johns poems lack polish and blend together in metaphoric heaps of fog and moisture, mirrors and dreams, sunlight and smoke, and, yes, moon and stars. A few poems of singular style emerge from the fetid muck: Memphis smartly extends the conceit of Elvis as a classical god, much in the way Chevalier DOr imagines an aging rock star as a medieval troubadour. The clever rhymes of Night force a certain sharpness that otherwise eludes this bard of greeting-card desire. -- Copyright ©1999, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.
About the Author
David St. John has been honored, over the course of his career, with many of the most significant prizes for poets, including fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, the Prix de Rome Fellowship in Literature from the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters, and a grant from the Ingram Merrill Foundation. His work has been published in countless literary magazines, including The New Yorker, Paris Reviews, Poetry, American Poetry Review, Antaeus, Harper's,
and The New Republic,
and has been widely anthologized. He has taught creative writing at Oberlin College and Johns Hopkins University and currently teaches at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles.