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"Everyone should know that you can’t live in any other way than by cultivating the soul.” –Apuleius, Roman writer
A hoe is an instrument a farmer uses to cultivate the land, to prepare the soil for planting and growth. What are the tools we might employ in the cultivation of our self, of our soul? Words can be used to churn up the soil of our soul and reveal the life underneath. Words too are seeds, which when planted in lyrical rows spring forth as poetry. David St. John is one such sower of words who cultivates a deeper understanding of our human self and soul through his word-craft. It has been said of St. John that he is a keen “observer of landscapes, within and without.” St. John’s poems detect the visceral moments of life in ways that allow the hearer/reader to see images, smell flowers, taste the nectar, and feel the earth through his sowing of words. Please join us in conversation with Professor St. John as we explore his application of the polymathic principle of cultivation of the self and the soul.
David St. John, University Professor and professor of English and comparative literature
David St. John is a University Professor and professor of English and comparative literature at USC, while also serving as chair of the English Department. He has been honored, over the course of his career, with many of the most significant prizes for poets, including both the Rome Fellowship and the Award in Literature from the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters, the O.B. Hardison Prize for teaching and poetic achievement from the Folger Shakespeare Library, and the George Drury Smith Lifetime Achievement Award from Beyond Baroque. He is the author of eleven collections of poetry, including Study for the World’s Body, which was nominated for the National Book Award, and more recently The Auroras (2012), The Window (2014), and The Last Troubadour: Selected and New Poems (2017). He is also the author of a volume of essays, interviews, and reviews entitled Where the Angels Come Toward Us (1995). A true polymath, he has written libretti for the opera, THE FACE, and for the choral symphony, THE SHORE. He studied at California State University, Fresno, and at the University of Iowa, receiving an MFA in 1974.