NEW RELEASE:  Rick’s newest collection, Book of Entangled Souls, was published in June, 2022, by Broadstone Books. Click here to order.  The book is also available at list price via independent bookstores and online outlets like Amazon. Ordering information for his previously published books is at the bottom of this page.

Book of Entangled Souls — Broadstone Books, 2022   Paperback $18.00 (direct from publisher); $24.00 list price. 

In St. John’s wide-ranging, empathetic poems, we encounter the quiet, less-heard presences of our world — as they worry, warn, suffer and hope — illuminating our shared connections and complicities, private entanglements, and the difficult boundaries we’re called to cross. These gathered souls “watch the glow as the city burns,” yet, like charged particles in a quantum field, they — and all of us — emerge shimmering and radiant, “perishing and irreducible.”

“Richard St. John’s gorgeously musical poems ask us a vital question for our time and for our eternity: How can we better understand we are a world of entangled souls whose actions–large and small—shape the trajectory of all souls? In these vivid and graceful poems, we encounter the weary deli clerk, the urban gardener, the curmudgeonly neighbor, the Muslim man seeking asylum, the sister with Down Syndrome, and others. In the periphery, the sages hover, offering wisdom and reminding us we’ve been engaged in this questioning for a long, long time. St. John’s inspired and wonderfully crafted words allow us to linger with these lives, to savor the beautiful and the difficult. Hold these lives, these poems, closely and often.”       – Nancy Krygowski, author of The Woman in the Corner and Velocity

“Book of Entangled Souls is a pilgrim’s progress through our harrowed world, a mapping of the ten thousand things in which the sacred and the profane go hand in hand. In landscapes and laments and remarkable elegies, the journeys among Third and Ancient Worlds where an F-16’s sonic wake mars the air above barley-filled clay jars, St. John finds his ‘fugue-like music / of entanglement.’ The soul embodied in girders and tombs and begging cups, ‘the old, brown-brick apartments . . . / blazing in late winter sun: / all the lives that ever lived there, / held and lit.’ In the book’s remarkably generous vision, ‘There’s fire all around us.’ ”             – Robert Gibb, author of The Origins of Evening, a National Poetry Series selection

“Richard St. John declares that the souls in his newest collection are entangled. And when I first started reading, I thought that, yes, there is entanglement, here, so much experience, so much variety, but as I read and re-read, I found that the humanity that he so deftly exhibits in the poems does not lead to entanglement so much as it casts a wide net—I would say a vast net—of occasions and encounters, the underlying fabric of which is connectivity, a sense of shared humanity. St. John can talk with Blake and quarrel with Yeats and yet never leave his own ground of being, his friends, his loves, his family, his wandering. He is open. He watches. He listens. He attends. He moves in a rich and varied world, and it is our good luck that he carries us with him.” – Frank X. Gaspar, author of Late Rapturous and the heteronymic The Poems of Renata Ferreira

Each Perfected Name cover

Each Perfected Name — Truman State University Press, 2015. Paperback $16.95

The poems in Each Perfected Name are about many things: seeing the sacred in the ordinary, recalling the beloved fragility we all carry with us, and wondering what we should do in the world with the stories and symbols that shape us. These meditative, conversational, yet carefully-crafted poems are about Odysseus, Aristotle, and the G-20 Summit; planets, quarks and stars; urban landscapes, the problem of the soul, and more.

“There is a gentleness to Richard St. John’s new book, and it permeates the thought, observation, and expression of the poet, who is constantly noticing how one thing breathes into another.  In these poems St. John’s presence is everywhere, and he takes in the world with gratitude, attention, and a tender scrutiny that moves the reader into his or her own “trapped divine” where objects, people, ideas and reverence, jostle and settle into new relationships.  St. John is a careful guide and his words trace the workings of an open heart.” – Frank X. Gaspar, author of Late Rapturous

The Pure Inconstancy Of Grace, cover

The Pure Inconstancy of Grace, Truman State University Press, 2005. Paperback $16.95

The Pure Inconstancy of Grace was selected by Diane Wakoski as first runner-up for the 2004 T. S. Eliot Prize for Poetry.

Here are some reactions to the book:

“Richard St. John is a master craftsman who eloquently illuminates the human condition in surprising and profound ways. He finds genuine grace in the midst of suffering and despair, as well as in mundane moments of daily life. These are powerful poems with clear-eyed empathy and uncanny insight.” – Maurya Simon, University of California-Riverside

“What remarkable, original, and intelligent poems these are – without an echo of imitation or lingering indebtedness. Above all, these are poems of felt intelligence – a quality one associates with Richard Wilbur or John Donne and too few others. Richard St. John is among the select few. This book ranks among the best recent books of poems I have read, and I mean every word of that.” – Samuel Hazo, International Poetry Forum

“Everywhere St. John looks — a painting, a woman walking her dogs, a carafe, a skull – he sees possibility, “these works of grace – incongruous / and unexpected. And yet, undeniably, here.” St. John has crafted a volume that rewards the reader with its wisdom and its frankness, its meditations on the universality of human experience.” – Poet Lore

Shrine, cover

Shrine, 2011. Paperback $14.00

This long poem, which grew from an 8-day visit to Hiroshima and other cities in Japan, was published as a chapbook in 2011.

“This is a stunning poem, nuanced and complex and beautifully crafted so that each section builds and turns back to the previous and points to the next. It’s impossible to do it credit. Through the alchemy of St. John’s voice, passion, and imagery, we are shown not only the “unequal losses” but also the miracles and shrines of our own worlds – a gift we’re seldom given in contemporary poetry.” – Jo McDougall

“This is a moving, social as well as deeply personal poem.” — Judith Vollmer


Each Perfected Name or The Pure Inconstancy of Grace can be ordered in any of these ways:

Shrine can be ordered by clicking here.

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