by Renown Poet and Scholar~ Annie Finch, PhD.
“I am happy to write a recommendation for the extraordinary John Evans. A veteran and largely a self-taught writer, John combines a passionate need to express himself and tell his story with a profound respect for literature, a fierce thirst for learning, and many natural literary gifts. He is the kind of student who makes me proud and excited to teach in a low-residency program in creative writing. I got to know John when he contacted me through my poetry teaching website […] and commenced what would become an intensive writing tutorial over several months.
During the time I worked with John, I found him to be an eager student, ready to revise tirelessly and eager to absorb anything I had to teach him. He has read widely and is enthusiastic to read more. His writing style is raw and unabashed, with words flowing urgently over the page. When we started working together, his poetry manuscript, now titled Vehemence, was well over a hundred pages, representing 20 – years, worth of work. John demonstrated a unflagging energy for shaping and strengthening the manuscript. During, one week while we were working on the villanelle form and I had gone out of town, he informed me he had written no less than six villanelles. I was particularly impressed the value of discarding large swathes of writing, a process that tends to threaten the egos of less mature and serious poets.
The decades of going his own way as a self-taught writer have endowed John’s writing voice with a power and authenticity that is refreshing and compelling. A central theme in the manuscript we worked on together, Vehemence, is the sexual abuse he endured…in the military. John has done the necessary emotional work to become ready to write openly about this important topic, and this is one of the things he intends to explore…in creative writing.
Clearly, John does not have a traditional educational background. But I feel he has many other strengths that will be far more important to his career in creative writing: the perspective and maturity to take in other’s suggestions and grow from their feedback; the discipline, diligence, and initiative to work hard on his own; sincere passion to make his voice heard; genuine reverence for and curiosity about the power of literary tradition, which will help his writing to be part of something bigger than itself; and a natural poetic ear along with a sense of image and story.