John James is the author of The Milk Hours, selected by Henri Cole as the winner of the second annual Max Ritvo Poetry Prize, published by Milkweed Editions in June 2019. His poems appear in Boston Review, Kenyon Review, Gulf Coast, Poetry Northwest, Best American Poetry 2017, and elsewhere. His work has been supported through fellowships and awards from the Bread Loaf Environmental Writers' Conference, the Academy of American Poets, and the Lannan Center for Poetics and Social Practice at Georgetown University. He is pursuing a PhD in English and Critical Theory at the University of California, Berkeley.
“The poetry of the earth is intensely alive in the poems of John James. In this luminous first book, there are poems of a son and a young father. Many of the best inhabit a tormented Kentucky landscape where there is a field with horses, a house and a barn, a flooding river, a cemetery where a parent lies, and bees or flies hovering. Out of the sorrowful fragments of personal history, John James has a created a book of unusual intelligence and beauty.”
“The titular poem in John James’s debut collection refers not only to the luminous hour of infant nurture, although that is its occasion, but to the violent loss of his father, an event distant enough that ‘snowmelt smoothes the stone cuts of his name.’ James’s searing attention is upon the fleeting, the untethered, upon fecundity and decay, the cosmic and the molecular. These are also the poems of a young father’s daily life in the wane of empire, who wishes ‘to remember things purely, to see them / As they are,’ and who recognizes in what he sees our peril. ‘The end,’ he writes, ‘we’re moving toward it.’ James is, then, a poet of our precarious moment, and The Milk Hours is his gift to us.”
Grady Chambers is the author of North American Stadiums (Milkweed Editions, 2018) selected by Henri Cole as the winner of the inaugural Max Ritvo Poetry Prize. His poems and stories have appeared in or are forthcoming from The Paris Review, Ploughshares, Kenyon Review Online, Prairie Schooner, Joyland, Nashville Review, and elsewhere. Grady was born and raised in Chicago. He is a former Wallace Stegner Fellow, and lives in Philadelphia.