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John Wieners Biography

(1934–2002), The Hotel Wentley Poems, Ace of Pentacles, Nerves, Woman, Hotels

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American poet, born in Boston, educated at Boston College. After meeting Charles Olson in 1954, Wieners extended his education at Black Mountain College, under the tutelage of both Olson and Robert Duncan. Like Duncan, Wieners brings the Romantic tradition into modernist and post-modernist verse; his stress on lost love and yearning makes him the most directly lyrical poet of the Black Mountain tradition. Wieners is aware that the context of his time has altered and transposed the Romantic stance; he responds to this by adopting a series of elegant but restless linguistic procedures, each of which is designed both to acknowledge and to resist the marginalization of his voice. The Hotel Wentley Poems (1958) remains his most famous book, partly as a result of the emotionally explicit way in which he deals with his life as a homosexual and one-time drug addict. Ace of Pentacles (1964) extends his technical mastery, while Nerves (1970) acts as a brilliant summary of his early mode. Woman (1972), Hotels (1974), and Behind the State Capitol or Cincinnati Pike (1975) initiate the second major phase of his career. His Selected Poems 1958–1984 (1986), includes two interviews with Wieners and is introduced by Allen Ginsberg.

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