John Godfrey was born in Massena, N.Y. in 1945. He is the author of 14 collections of poetry, including The City Keeps: Selected and New Poems 1966-2014 (Wave Books, May 2016). He received an A.B. from Princeton University in 1967, and took a B.S. in Nursing from Columbia University in 1994. He has received fellowships from the General Electric Foundation (1984), the Foundation for Contemporary Arts (2009), and the Z Foundation (2013). He retired in 2011 after 17 years as a nurse clinician in HIV/AIDS. He has lived in the East Village of Manhattan since the 1960s.
Winner of a Foundation for Contemporary Arts Grant for 2009
(Author photo by John Sarsgard)
John Godfrey is a karma yogi—to be useful in the world to those who suffer, and to write these black jewel-like fractured poems for our contemplation.
We walk with Godfrey but also feel two steps behind—and it’s this constant feeling of walking next to him yet needing to catch up, the tension of intimate distance, that keeps us engaged.
—Gina Myers, Bookslut
He incorporates vernacular, he blows fuses on clichés, and he scalpels away bookkeeping words to jump-cut high energy, emotive phrasings. Blink and you’ll miss it.
—Forrest Gander, Harriet Blog
Godfrey's jumpy, sometimes disjointed poems belong to an exciting recent tradition: they describe day-to-day, block-to-block, moment-to-moment life in the downtown Bohemia of New York, as Ted Berrigan (among others) did in the 1960s and 1970s. In short lines and disconnected phrases, Godfrey considers the ups and downs of sexual attraction...and the ever-changing cityscapes he sees.
Reviews of books by John Godfrey
City of Corners
The City Keeps: Selected and New Poems 1966-2014
- "In the Chamber" in Poetry
- A Portrait of John Godfrey on The Poetry Project
- Eight Poems (in The Brooklyn Rail)
- Reading “Pouring Gulf” at Brown University
- John Godfrey’s page at PennSound
- Reading his poetry for The Poetry Project's Portraits of Poets Series
Reading with John Koethe at The Poetry Project: