1600 Holloway Ave, San Francisco, CA 94132, United States
John High attended San Francisco Stale University, where he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1981 and a Master of Arts in 1987.
Ulitsa Akademika Volgina, д. 6, Moscow, Russia, 117485
High got a Russian-language certificate at Pushkin Institute, Moscow, Russia in 1986.
Berkeley, CA, United States
High attended the University of California-Berkeley, in 1988-1989.
(This anthology traces the course of Russian poetry at per...)
This anthology traces the course of Russian poetry at perhaps its most crucial moment since the early nineteenth century. Crossing Centuries focuses on transformations in Russian poetry in the last fifty years, with particular attention to the Brezhnev and Gorbachev years and the profound changes in language and values that followed the collapse of the Soviet regime.
(Abstract, vivid and difficult, this harrowing first novel...)
Abstract, vivid and difficult, this harrowing first novel from PW contributing editor High (The Sasha Poems) combines metaphysical speculation with attention to the landscape and religion of Russia.
(Soaked in night visions and pierced through by jagged mem...)
Soaked in night visions and pierced through by jagged memory, Talking God's Radio Show tells that peculiarly American story in which, as Faulkner once said, "The past isn't forgotten, it isn't even the past."
John High attended San Francisco Stale University, where he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1981 and a Master of Arts in 1987. He got a Russian-language certificate at Pushkin Institute, Moscow, Russia in 1986. Also, he attended the University of California-Berkeley, in 1988-1989.
High started his career as a founding editor at Five Fingers Review, in 1982-1987. Since 1998 he has been a correspondent at Publishers Weekly. He worked at San Francisco State University as an instructor in creative writing in 1987-1991 and 1994-1999. He was a Fulbright fellow at Moscow State Linguistic University in 1991-1994, a visiting writer and professor at Montclair State University in 1999. Since 1999 he has been an instructor in composition, literature, and creative writing at Long Island University, Brooklyn Campus. He was a writer-in-residence in THE.RE.GRUP in 1988. Since 1995 he has been a creative writing instructor at Writers on the Web. Also, he gives readings from his works.
He travels the globe and is deeply involved with Russian contemporary literature. From 1991 to 1994 he was a Fulbright fellow in Moscow, and he has translated the post-Cold War works of Russian poets and writers, including Nina Iskrenko, Alexei Parshchikov, and Ivan Zhdanov. His book, "Along Her Thighs: Selected Writings of John High," was translated and published in Moscow. High is editor of "Crossing Centuries: The New Russian Poetry," an anthology of contemporary Russian poetry. He is also completing work on the collected writings of Osip Mandelshtam. High has taught creative writing at San Francisco State University and teaches three online courses for writers on the internet at writers.com, titled “Episodes and Voices: Short Short Story Writing,” “Poetry and the Sacred,” and “The Journal: Entering the Journey of Language.”
High’s novel "The Desire Notebooks" covers centuries, melding the spirituality of the Middle Ages with life in contemporary Siberia and includes photographs from the Sovfoto/Eastfoto archives. The book is presented in three parts: “The Book of Mistranslations,” “A Face of Desire,” and “The Monks Overlooking the Story.” The segments follow the path of human desire under the most difficult circumstances. Parts of letters, poems, and dialogue meld as the fates of a pair of unnamed young lovers and a pair of monks weave in and out of a thousand years of Russian history. The lovers, suffering in contemporary Siberia with its cold, cancer, and morphine, are sustained by Ezekiel and Peter, the monks High suggests are continually reincarnated.
A Village Voice reviewer wrote that the lovers “are described in gnomic diction that suggests an eternal and apocalyptic landscape.” In a review at writers.com, Allegra Wong called it “a memorial triptych for a lover and soul-mate. Landscape, intense longing, eras, her slow dying, and his sorrow blend and become one. The Desire Notebooks achieves for John High the true vision of an author - to painstakingly extract lessons, morals, and insights from his soul and transpose them to text.” Wong called High’s prose “precisely rendered ... intelligent, sensitive, and passionate” and compared it to the writings of Pessoa, Duras, Cortazar, Figes, Calvino, and Maso.
A Publishers Weekly reviewer called "The Desire Note-books" “abstract, vivid, and difficult” but felt readers “may respond to High’s spiritual and intellectual ambition, his accurately conveyed desire to make a novel tell the story of love and death, always and everywhere.” Sarah Fox wrote in Rain Taxi Review of Books that the story “and its three tellings reimagine a gospel for the new millennium, weaving contemporary Russian history and culture, memoir, metaphysical conjecture, religious and classical allusion... into its cosmology of desire.”
John High once told that he is interested in Zen. He is a Zen student and resides at the San Francisco Zen Center. San Francisco Zen Center (SFZC), is a network of affiliated Sōtō Zen practice and retreat centers in the San Francisco Bay area, comprising City Center or Beginner's Mind Temple, Tassajara Zen Mountain Center, and Green Gulch Farm Zen Center. The sangha was incorporated by Shunryu Suzuki Roshi and a group of his American students in 1962. Today SFZC is the largest Sōtō organization in the West.
John High is a former member of the Moscow Club Poetry.
Quotes from others about the person
“John High is consummately an artist and a visionary. Through his barbeque-smoked voice, the dead and the lost, the innocent and the doomed speak to us with an urgency we cannot forget. He writes as if his being were at stake as if our being were at stake. Like St. Dominic in Fra Angelico’s fresco, with all the world’s ‘blue slime, pestilence mosquitoes, rain’ swirling around him, John High concentrates, in his own words, with the ‘clarity of the sun beating down.‘Bloodline maps a poetic line that shoots from the American South to Moscow, from Zen aphorism to jazz-inspired improvisation, from suffering and redemption to suffering and redemption." - Forrest Gander.
“John High’s writing has an element of music, sometimes a story, in which sensual detail is like ‘the changes and shifts of dream that go unnoticed in gesture." - Leslie Scalapino.
“John High’s poems... move me by their authenticity, their urgent and deep emotional content... They had to be poems. Moving in and by image and intuition, they discover, as they go, the shapes and patterns by which thoughts, concepts, and states of feeling sing themselves forth.” - Denise Levertov.
“John High’s writing works the same magic inside me as Denis Johnson - he can send you swooning into space and break your heart with his poetry, but his lyricism always arises from this earth: from the gritty, the visceral, the real. Some chapters croon to you, others bring you to your knees, there’s wild humor here, gambling, knife-throwing, boys coming into full being, music, magic, ghosts and a blood-red earnestness that washes through every page. The work is a wonder. And if you think I’m exaggerating here, I bet you won’t once you read the book.” - Karen Russell, author of "St. Lucy’s Home for Girls," "Raised by Wolves," and "Swamplandia!"
“Soaked in night visions and pierced through by jagged memory, John High’s work tells that peculiarly American story in which, as Faulkner once said, 'The past isn’t forgotten, it isn’t even the past.’ John High’s Virginia backwaters call to mind the feral, hallucinogenic American landscapes of Cormac McCarthy'sChild of God, as well as Faulkner’s Sanctuary…” - Albert Mobilio.
John High has one child - Sasha High.