John Peck is a freelance editor and translator and a practicing Jungian analyst. He is the author of eight previous books of poems, most recently of Red Strawberry Leaf: Selected Poems, 1994-2001, published in the Phoenix Poets series by the University of Chicago Press. He is also a cotranslator of C. G. Jung's The Red Book. (Author photo by Ingrid Peck)
In a country where much of the prominent poetry seeks to affirm the fleeting present and its changing values, John Peck’s poetry comes as an important, if unlikely, gift. Peck’s verse deals the cards of the fragmentary, ideogramic, juxtapositional, and elliptical through the deck of normally discursive syntax. Echoing late high Modernism, Peck’s work, in the words of novelist Joseph McElroy, is “a way of seeing things,” confident “in the packed vividness of the referential.” Avoiding the narrow identity- or group-specific viewpoint of some of his contemporaries, Peck invites us to enter the larger humanscape and unearth with him unnoticed connections to our shared past and to one another. In Contradance, his ninth collection, Peck’s passion for inquiry and historical reflection has never been stronger or more beautifully embodied.
"John Peck is unique among contemporary American poets for the burnished, intricate density of his thought and the rugged, even gnarled lyricism of his lines. The ghosts of Ludwig Wittgenstein, Richard Avedon, Rainer Maria Rilke, Herman Melville, and a host of others stalk gravely through the steps of Peck's Contradance, their spectral presences a ghostly counterpoint to the poet's preternatural awareness of the buzzy, blooming confusion of the present moment: 'Life is not a thing/that we have, it is being seeking emmployment.'''
The University of Chicago Press