Bio

John L. Holgerson was born and grew up in Taunton, Massachusetts. He attended the University of Notre Dame as a student in its six year law program. While at Notre Dame, he met two professors who would affect his life and direct its course for several decades. In his sophomore and junior year, he took courses on British and American poetry that were taught by a young professor named John Matthias in his first year at Notre Dame. Professor Matthias had come to Notre Dame from Stanford University where he had studied under the poet and critic Yvor Winters. His fellow graduate school classmates at Stanford included two future poet laureates of the United States, Robert Hass and Robert Pinsky, as well as the poets Ken Fields, James McMichael, and John Peck. To date, Professor Matthias has published some twenty five volumes of poetry, criticism, translations, and scholarship. Professor Matthias held Friday evening poetry sessions with interested students at his South Bend home near the Notre Dame campus. He encouraged his students to attend these sessions and bring their own work to read and discuss. It was in Professor Matthias’ living room that John began to learn the craft and art of writing poetry and to write it in earnest. Since then, he has not stopped learning or writing.

As a part of Notre Dame’s six year law program, John’s senior year was his first year of law school. At that time, he became a student of Professor Robert Blakey who taught criminal law and procedure. Professor Blakey is presently the nation’s foremost authority on the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization Act (RICO), largely because he drafted it as Title IX of the Organized Crime Control Act of 1970. While it was Professor Blakey’s enthusiasm for criminal law that ignited John’s interest in the criminal justice system, it was William Kunstler’s zealous defense of the Chicago Seven, ninety miles away in Chicago at that time, that led John to join the Massachusetts Defenders Committee (later it would become the Public Counsel Division of the Committee for Public Counsel Services) shortly after graduating from Notre Dame Law School. During his last year of law school, John maintained his contact with Professor Matthias and poetry by convincing the law school administration to allow him to take Matthias’ graduate school course on Contemporary Poetry as a law school elective course.

While with the public defenders office, John was a trial and appellate attorney who represented clients charged with serious felonies, such as murder, drug trafficking, armed robbery, home invasion and rape to name a few. He has argued before both the  Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court and the Massachusetts Appeals Court. His experiences with these cases form the basis of his forthcoming novel, The Last Defender.

During his time in the criminal justice system, he never stopped writing poetry. After leaving the public defenders office in 2005, he began practice with a small law firm in Taunton and found the time to see a number of his poems published in small literary journals and then in a collection of his work, Broken Borders. His poems have appeared in literary journals such as Modern English Tanka, Shadow Quill Poetry, Popt Art, and Concise Delight.