Poetry News

Happy Birthday John Wieners!

By Harriet Staff

John Wieners

Over at The Allen Ginsberg Project, Jim Dunn reminds us that today John Wieners would have been 80 years old. The ranks of Wieners admirers seems to grow exponentially every year as younger readers discover his unique voice. Dunn writes:

It is fitting today, on the Twelfth Say of Christmas, the Epiphany, the Visitation of the Three Kings, we commemorate John Wieners' 80th birthday. It is fitting considering his Irish Catholic Jesuit upbringing and his belief in the spiritual quality of poetry. Although he published only a handful of books and three issues of his magazine, Measure, in his lifetime, his influence upon his contemporary poets and subsequent generations of writers is immeasurable. Poets who admire his work, take him immediately to heart, and regard him with absolute devotion. A poet's poet, his various friendships and connections place him in multiple influential poetic movements and schools - Black Mountain, the San Francisco Renaissance, the Beats, Fag Rag Collective and the Boston poets. His shy, eccentric nature coupled with his staggering lyrical technical facility distinguished him and his work from the many schools of poetry with which he was involved.

We're thrilled to see Dunn make mention of a number of editorial projects underway to bring out more of Wieners's writing.

The great bulk of Wieners' writing exists in unpublished correspondence to countless friends and colleagues throughout the decades. These fascinating letters collected and transcribed by Seth Stewart, underscore Wieners' rightful place in literary history. An essential sampling of Wieners and (Charles) Olson correspondence has been published recently as part of Ammiel Alcalay's "Lost and Found" series at CUNY. These correspondences, along with Robert Dewhurst's daunting, ambitious, project to assemble and publish a complete edition of Wieners' work signify the growing interest in, and appreciation of, Wieners.

Make your way over to The Allen Ginsberg Project for a list of links to great Wieners-related material. And go here to read a handful of poems in our online archive. Happy birthday, John!!

Originally Published: January 6th, 2014