Born in Massena, New York, John Godfrey attended Princeton University. Often associated with the New York School, he has lived in the East Village of Manhattan since the 1960s.
Godfrey’s work was praised by Ron Padgett for its “lyrical and metaphysical” qualities as well as its “irresistible philosophical hauteur” and also Hoover mentions his particular use of “packed syntax and exuberant word choice” which creates a kind of surrealism.
Godfrey is the author of 14 collections of poetry. 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.
https://vimeo.com/62674082 (video of a 2013 reading)
My below poem took its inspiration (and opening lines) from Godfrey's poem "Wings".
~ - ~
(after John Godfrey)
I know I come off a little bit wavy.
but you must realise the material world
is constantly crumpling before my eyes.
a pile of discarded drafts in a bin.
good luck trying to smooth out
those creases. they run across everything.
just like nothing escapes the inky
hands of the print-maker. all
bound up tightly, glued together
forever happily between the flimsy bent
cardboard covers of a cheap paperback:
romance and murder mystery,
always plenty of laughs and tragedy.
in one volume compiled. what an excellent
bargain! but turn the first page and you’ll see
everyone’s names are changed.
you e.g. are Grace and I am
Prudence, and every man you ever
met was called Jack.
which is just a metaphor or
maybe an innuendo that nobody
ever cares to look up. we read
while we write:
mixed source paper certificate --
fibres from certified forests can be
mixed with recycled material and
products from sources beyond our