Saint Joe’s Passion seeks to reconcile the lyric with the narrative. In the tradition of Catullus’s love poems and Berryman’s The Dream Songs, the poems of Saint Joe’s Passion recount the lonely lecherous life of Joseph Johnstone–cancer patient, classical music DJ, former voice-talent. The poems swing back and forth from Joe’s hospital bed to moments of his past: a past of religion, little league baseball, music, and marital friction. The collection paints the portrait of a man who was never quite able to open himself up to genuine love and intimacy.
“J. D. Schraffenberger’s first collection is an often dazzling projection of masks over and under other masks, voices parodying other voices, or interrupting them, or guiding them into unanticipated channels, as though these poems were randomly selected in a still-evolving script. It isn’t easy to say exactly what it all adds up to, but the adventurous reader should find the journey never less than engaging.”—Charles Martin