John Wieners (1934–2002) was a founding member of the “New American” poetry that flourished in America after the Second World War. Upon graduating from Boston College in 1954, Wieners enrolled in the final class of Black Mountain College. Following Black Mountain’s closure in 1956, he founded the small magazine Measure (1957–1962) and embarked on a peripatetic life, participating in poetry communities in Boston, San Francisco, New York, and Buffalo throughout the late 1950s and 1960s, before settling in Boston in 1972. He is the author of seven collections of poetry, three one-act plays, and numerous broadsides, pamphlets, uncollected poems, and journals. Robert Creeley once described Wieners as “the greatest poet of emotion” of their time. Wave Books published Supplication: Selected Poems of John Wieners in 2015.
(Author photo by Wallace Berman, copyright Wallace Berman Estate)
John Wieners is the greatest poet of emotion I have ever read. I know of no poet more articulate or precise in his revelation of human feeling. He is the consummate poet of love for my generation.
There is no doubt in my mind or in anyone's mind who knows these poems well that they are major American poetry and will be in anthologies for 100 years, I mean that good.
A graceful rigor seems to be Wieners' natural mode; we feel the force of deliberation in his most free forms—he is never casual. The grace is miraculous, for he aims at intensities, by orders that shape and then restrict feeling to the ardent.
What moves us is not the darkness of the world in which the poems were written by the pity and terror and joy that is beauty in the poems themselves...In Wieners the glamor is in the word-music itself.
Reviews of books by John Wieners
Supplication: Selected Poems of John Wieners
-“A poem for William Wellington” (in Jacket2)
- Several poems (at the Poetry Foundation)
- “Cocaine” (in LitGenius)
- Nineteen poems (at the Electronic Poetry Center)
- Twenty-six poems (at Poeticous)
- “Egg Nog” (in The East Village)
- “A Poem for Trapped Things” (at Stevesilberman.com)
- The Hotel Wentley Poems (at Duke University)
- Two poems (in the Poets on the Line Anthology by Echo NYC)
- Twelve or more poems (in Green Integer)
- Multiple poems (at The Poetry Project)
- Jacket 2, with Lewis Hammond Stone & Steve Prygoda, January 1993
- A conversation with Raymond Foye, 1988
- John Wieners' page on PennSound
- John Wieners' page at the Electric Poetry Center
- KCRW's Bookworm feature episode on Supplication: Selected Poems of John Wieners featuring editors Joshua Beckman, CAConrad, and Robert Dewhurst
- Reading from The Hotel Wentley Poems at the Digital Poetry Center
- Fannie Howe reads Wieners' poem “The Acts of Youth” at The Library of Congress
From the series USA: Poetry by Richard O. Moore, with Robert Duncan (1965):