[“John Wieners, tragic American poet, visiting my room Park Plaza Hotel, Boston February 1, 1985. We’d met three decades earlier at Cedar Bar, New York — Robert Creeley & Frank O’Hara both admired his gift then, Hotel Wentley Poems were published that decade — but none of his books were in print at time of this visit.” (Allen Ginsberg Caption.) c. Allen Ginsberg Estate]
Happy Birthday, John Wieners
The first of our 2011 birthday shout-outs goes out to the ever-present, graceful spirit of “pure poet”,”pure genius”, John Wieners, who, today, would have been 77 (the laudatory terms are Allen’s, from his introduction to the Black Sparrow edition of the first volume of Selected Poems 1958-1984. (Robert Creeley’s introduction to a second Black Sparrow volume also available on line is worth checking). Among other treasures on-line are recordings of Wieners reading (a legendary 1965 University of Buffalo reading, and, of course, the incomparable PennSounds page) – there’s also video up on TheEastVillage.com.
We couldn’t not mention, while celebrating John and Allen, Raymond Foye’s fondly-recalled account of John’s 1988 visit with Allen on the occasion of his participation in the “Literary History of the Beat Generation” series at Brooklyn College. A similarly poignant account of the interaction between the two poets, on another occasion, was recently provided by Eliot Kreiger on his blog. For an intelligent profile/over-view of the great poet shortly before his death in 2002, Pamela Petro’s piece for the Boston College magazine, “The Hipster of Joy Street”, is certainly worth a read if you’ve not seen it. Catherine Salmons in the Boston Phoenix a few years earlier might also serve as a reminder of the respect he had accrued.
The achievement lives on (two recently posthumous books have been published in the last few years by Lowell, Mass’s Bootstrap Press, “A Book of Prophecies” and “A New Book From Rome”
– and here’s his circa 1976 Statement for Who’s Who?