John Wieners Selected ( Supplication) and Journals (Stars Seen In Person)

Pub. date isn’t until October 6th, but we couldn’t resist putting out the word on the forthcoming Selected Poems of John Wieners – edited by a trio of editors, Robert Dewhurst, Joshua Beckman and the ubiquitous CA Conrad

“About himself, the author writes; / he is a tireless worker, and has a very long memory./ Having forgotten what ensues, the anger of redundancy rises/a very lustful nature: he drinks like a fish/Crowded cupboards combine with scrap heaps disht!/ there is no man to be feared in judicial canon more than this male harlot” (!)

or – as Allen Ginsberg once wrote:
“John Wieners speaks with Keatsian eloquence, pathos, substantiality, the sound of Immortality in auto exhaust same as nightingale. He presents emotion on the spot – despair, nostalgia, bliss of love, dissatisfaction. And Glamor, coming from desire for Glamour…”

John Wieners (1934-2002)  c.1967 – Photograph by Jerome Mallman

John’s hard-won immortality and Glamour are both (gorgeously and heart-breakingly) revealed in this generous and astute selection of his work (clocking in at almost two-hundred pages)

Those familiar with the work (particularly via Raymond Foye’s exemplary two-volume edition for Black Sparrow, now, sadly, out-of-print) will not be disappointed.
Those unfamiliar, are in for a monumental treat.

Particularly pleasing is the inclusion of facsimilie reproductions from that strange (schizophrenic) disjunctive masterpiece of his from the middle ‘Seventies, Behind the State Capitol: Or Cincinnati Pike – including the reproduction of several of Wieners’ arresting and utterly-integral-to-the-book collages,
like this one:

and this one:

Here’s the book’s title-poem (“Supplication” (from the 1971 volume, Nerves))

O poetry, visit this house often,
imbue my life with success,
leave me not alone,
give me a wife and a home.

Take this curse off
of early death and drugs,
make me a friend among peers,
lend me love and timeliness

Return me to the men who teach
and above all, cure the
hurts of wanting the impossible
through this suspended vacuum

– but, astonishingly, there are, also, countless other poems (many more) as unflinching and beautiful as that.

Robert Dewhurst’s edition of The Collected Poems of John Wieners (not to mention, his biography) continues very much on track and will be appearing in the next couple of years.

Meanwhile, for more John Wieners on the Allen Ginsberg Project
see – here, here and here
plus….   here  here and here
See also this posting, and here and her

John Wieners and Allen Ginsberg, 1985 – Photograph by Raymond Foye

Not only one but two John Wieners books coming out in the Fall. The second of these, Stars Seen In Person – Michael Seth Stewart‘s masterly edit of Selected Journals, (with an introduction by Ammiel Alcalay) – (pub. date for that, 15th of September) – John’s first appearance with the legendary City Lights, incidentally.

Wayne Koestenbaum writes: “Thanks to Michael Seth Stewart’s editorial legerdemain, at long last we have the magnificent John Wieners here before us, in his full undressed splendor: poet, stargazer, philosopher, shaman, flâneur, survivor. His journals – an inspiring monument, filled with taut provocations and purple illuminations – are valuable as cultural history, as lyric performance, as uninhibited autobiography, and as a motley, genre-defying epitome of gesamtkunstwerk aesthetic possibilities that seem as fresh and enticing as anything being dreamt up today”

Poet, Fanny Howe writes – “These pages of notebooks and poetry – so exhaustively exhumed and returned to light and breath – are equivalent to Rilke‘s Letters to a Young Poet, but in reverse. John Wieners (forever young) evolved through his prose notes towards a sustained poetics of adolescence , holding that tormented phase on a long unyielding band-wave, resisting the sop of adult living with all his might and undergoing the inevitable punishments that such persistence brings”

“These journals”, David Meltzer writes, “reveal his deep commitment to poetry & the poem; they contextualize his constant questing and devotion to the art. I…remain amazed & moved by his deeply examined honesty & purity”.

Four journals in total in one book (from 1955, 1965, 1966 and 1969)  – “The first journal depicts a young, openly gay, self-described “would-be poet” dashing around bohemian Boston with writer and artist friends, pre-drugs and pre-fame. By the last book, decimated by repeated institutionalizations (the first for drug-related psychosis, the rest the consequence of the first) and personal tragedies. Wieners is broken down and in great pain, but still writing honestly and with detail about the life he’s left with. These journals capture a post-war bohemian world that no longer exists, depicted through the prism of Wieners’ sense of glamour”. (sic)

For those of you in San Francisco, there will be an in-store celebration at City Lights on September the 8th

& while we wait – here‘s the pioneering 1965 Robert O Moore film for WNET (John, captured in the ruins of the Hotel Wentley (sic)) – John Wieners and Robert Duncan

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