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John Wheelwright (John Brooks Wheelwright) Biography

(1897–1940), (John Brooks Wheelwright), Secession, Rock and Shells, Mirrors of Venus, Political Self-Portrait

American poet, born in Boston, educated at Harvard and at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he trained for his career as an architect. In 1923 he travelled to Florence to oversee the printing there of an issue of Secession, one of the notable American little magazines of the early 1920s; among the contributions for publication was Hart Crane's ‘For the Marriage of Faustus and Helen’, which Wheelwright radically altered, causing considerable controversy. Crane, who regarded Wheelwright's verse as possessing ‘real emotional significance’, was the subject of the disquieting elegy ‘Fish Food’ which appeared in Rock and Shells (1933), his first collection of poetry. Mirrors of Venus (1938) was dominated by the sonnets making up the title sequence; the sometimes impressive conventional intricacy of such work was complemented by the eloquent plainness exemplified in his elegy ‘Father’. In the course of the 1930s his lyrical preoccupations were displaced by his socio-political concern, which is expressed with stringent directness in Political Self-Portrait (1940). From 1934 to 1937 he was the editor of Poems for a Dime. He was well known in Boston for his eccentric combination of an elegantly patrician manner and fervently socialist views. Collected Poems (1972) contains Dusk to Dusk, a collection he was preparing at the time of his death in a road accident.

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Literature Reference: American Literature, English Literature, Classics & Modern FictionEncyclopedia of Literature: Robert Penn Warren Biography to Kenneth White Biography