When Professor Primus St. John joined the PSU faculty in 1973 he already enjoyed a national reputation as a fine poet. Since then he has published several collections of his poems, edited two anthologies, helped create the NEA-funded Poets in the Schools Program, won the Western States Book Award for Poetry (2000), and the Oregon Book Award for Poetry (1990). In 2000 he was a finalist for poetry for both the Oregon Book Award and the PEN West Award. Professor St. John has participated in countless readings and taught hundreds of students to write creatively and think critically. Currently he is completing a collection of new poems based on historical and Caribbean themes where he continues his examination of people, their circumstances, and how they deal with those circumstances.
Professor St. John's early work referenced people he grew up with, their stories and their fates, weaving the fine threads of history, culture and family together into a rich, rhythmic tapestry. In his current work he expands on those themes. In particular, he attempts to cross over sympathetically to the lives of others, to look at and listen to people and then-dream them into existence. For St. John this exploration necessitates discovering a person's unique language.
As a teacher it is St. John's view that literature can teach a great deal about human interaction, opening doors to the discovery of other worlds and how they are similar or dissimilar. In the classroom Professor St. John simply points the way. When he teaches poetry writing, he focuses on creativity as problem solving. In particular he hopes to inspire his students to follow the stories and mysteries to which they are drawn so that they might discover not only what is known, but what is unknown hovering above the story.
Name: Primus St. John
Title: Professor of English
office: 485 NH