June 26, 2015

J. Chester Johnson interview in ILLUMINATIONS Magazine

When the Episcopal Church set about updating its Book of Common Prayer nearly 50 years ago, its committee to retranslate the Psalms faced a daunting task. Not only did it have to re-translate the Psalms, considered by many the "poetry" of the Bible, but it was losing its one poet on the committee who was moving back to England. It's hard to imagine anyone filling the shoes of W.H. Auden, but the young poet and translator J. Chester Johnson did just that.

In the current issue of Illuminations, J. Chester Johnson reflects on that experience--how he came to replace Auden, correspond with the great poet, and then set about helping the Episcopal Church refine the Psalms in the light of new scholarship. Poet and translator Ann Cefola interviews Johnson about the influence this experience with Auden and the retranslation of the Psalms had upon Johnson's literary career; she also discusses with Johnson the principles and practices that guided the retranslation process that lasted for nearly a decade. The interview encapsulates a critical period in Episcopal Church history and valuable insight into translating sacred texts.

Illuminations, the literary journal of the College of Charleston, has published poets such as Seamus Heaney, Stephen Spender and Carol Anne Duffy, as well as emerging writers, since its inception in 1982. (Click here to read the interview.)

– From press release by Ann Cefola


Distinguished Alumnus J. Chester Johnson Will Speak April 26th & 27th, 2017 at the University of Arkansas

Reflection and Reconciliation: The Elaine Race Massacre – Delta Cultural Center, 141 Cherry Street, Helena, Arkansas on Sunday, April 23rd, 2017


J. Chester Johnson Beside the Display of His Iconic Poem "St. Paul's Chapel"

J. Chester Johnson Reads Poetry at Deborah Danner's Memorial

J. Chester Johnson Reads His Poem, "St. Paul's Chapel," at the Calling of the Names Ceremony 15 Years After 9/11

J. Chester Johnson Is Featured In NBC New York Article

J. Chester Johnson Appeared at the Cornelia St. Café on Sunday, June 26th

J. Chester Johnson read as part of FOUR WAY BOOKS AND FRIENDS Program at NYU Bookstore

J. Chester Johnson at Heavenly Rest Episcopal Church, NYC, February 25th, 2016

J. Chester Johnson Moderator for Reading/Discussion by Reginald Dwayne Betts at Trinity Wall Street, NYC

Presentation at 9/11 Tribute Center (Ground Zero in New York City), Tuesday, December 15, 2015

“For Conduct and Innocents” – A Multimedia Performance, Based On The Drama In Verse By J. Chester Johnson

J. Chester Johnson interview in ILLUMINATIONS Magazine

Lecture on Dietrich Bonhoeffer: Theologian and Martyr


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