A recipient of four Fulbright Fellowships, John High has received grants from the National Endowment for the Arts (fiction and translation), the Witter Bynner Foundation, and Arts International. He is a former member of the Moscow Club Poetry and a founding editor of Five Fingers Review. Poet, translator, Zen monk—he has written ten books, including the novel, The Desire Notebooks. vanishing acts is the fourth volume in the interconnected series of poetry collections following here, a book of unknowing, and you are everything you are not. His translations of contemporary Russian poetry include books by Nina Iskrenko, Ivan Zhdanov, and Aleksei Parshchikov; he is the chief editor for Crossing Centuries—The New Generation in Russian Poetry. His translations of Osip Mandelstam have appeared in The Nation, Fulcrum, Denver Quarterly, Pen America, Ugly Duckling Presse, and Poetry. Recent readings include Istanbul, Moscow, St. Petersburg, Paris, Hangzhou, Venice, and New York. Recent work has appeared in Verse, New American Writing, The Brooklyn Rail, Ugly Duckling Presse (6×6), Brooklyn Paramount, Poems by Sunday, Visceral Brooklyn, Conjunctions, Poetry Northwest, and Paris Lit Up. Poems from this four-book series have been translated into French and Russian for the Paris Ivy Series and The St. Petersburg literary journal, Kreshchatik. He has taught creative writing and literature in Moscow, Istanbul, Hangzhou, and San Francisco, and currently directs the MFA Creative Writing Program at LIU Brooklyn.
(Day 25. “Chao Chao Asks About Death,” Book of Serenity, Koan#63)
The boy stumbled over the words catching himself in weeds as sounds of laughter flew up from the circus & onto hills & into sentences & over soda pops & all about these vanishing acts into a feeling of you just you, not so easy—go easy, go easy man because syllables get stuck in places of beginning & ending & movies she gestures forth—go forth go forth—& all this while eyeing a horse & a saddle & a clock by the tents & jugglers, painted faces, fire swillers swallowers star gazers & what a carnival, what a night, right, & what, just what are these things these 10,000 things these blurrings & visitations of things seen in an eye of a blind artist or if not in each turning & churning & birding of clowns & merry go rounds & fleeting moments fleeting language itself not so unfullfilled yet hesitant, you touch the handles of her bicycle—hesitant & why hesitant when this wala wala boom boom hooray you say can hour the clock & clean the sock, hour the wow & heal the cow, hour the freedom & green or yellow or fusia balloons going up up up & balls in the air, all up in the air yes all up in the air & meaning—there you have it—shooting out of all these magic rabbits & hankies you pull from a hat