David Sten Herrstrom
Born in Oakland, David grew up with braceros in California, working the dusty orchards of western Sonoma county, listening to vowels round as apples.
Coming east, marrying Constance Joy who is. And building a house, encouraging a daughter, Tristen, and planting a tree ...
After earning a doctorate in English literature from New York University, he taught undergraduates for whom he wrote with friends the textbook Writing as Discovery.
Jonah's Disappearance, a sequence of poems with drawings by Jacob Landau, was published by Ambrosia Press, and he continues making chapbooks and poems, which appear in such magazines as Columbia, US1 Worksheets, and Nimrod, as well as hypertext poems published in The New River: "The Nicodemus Glyph," "Sorting Things Out and Putting Things in Their Place," "Virtual Reality Exhibit at the Singapore Museum," and "To Find the White Cat in the Snow."
The results of his struggles to enter into the images of William Blake have appeared in Blake Quarterly and the Bucknell Review. His wrestling with the the Gospel of John, The Book of Unknowing, takes the leaping goat's approach to the craggy language of John and Jesus rather than the methodical rock climber's. And along the way, to help him find footholds on the how and why of John's strategies, he calls on other poets, from Emily Dickinson to Miguel de Unamuno, emerging finally with a Nicodemean reading.
Westminster Choir College, Princeton, NJ, presented the premiere of his collaboration with the composer Laurie Altman, "A Sonata For J.S. Bach." For Mark Zuckerman's opera, The Outlaw and the King, he forged the libretto. It is a tragic story where the bonds of love are rent by the necessity of self-creation and the demands of succession, one woven into the fabric of our families and society.
He once wrote the line: "There is a fire shut in the bones of words."
He has received a Poetry Fellowship from the NJ State Council on the Arts and been nominated for a Pushcart Prize.
Compelled to return to California periodically like a salmon to its home stream, he stands in an old-growth redwood cathedral near where he grew up, his body absorbing its moist fragrance and impossibly delicate light, and he thanks these presences for the privilege of being once again among them and declares that his religion is California.