The figure of John Wieners (1934–2002) often gets forgotten amid the cacophony of the culturally louder Beat poets and among the bigger names of the Black Mountain School, but in this marvelous selection Beckman, Dewhurst, and Conrad heed Weiners’s call to “visit this house often,/ imbue my life with success,/ leave me not alone.” A bridge between the radical content of Allen Ginsberg and the mainstream, Wieners’s writing fuses the plainspoken with the florid: “I wish I was a dancer/ and cd. move/ in feet/ undo my body.” Unapologetically queer and overtly sexual, he worries through the reality of gay life in mid-20th-century America. There is a deep concern with poetry as muse and form, and the poems “burn in the memory of love.” But Wieners also sees the danger in that love. Actively longing to be “normal,” even wishing for a woman to save him, he laments the hidden nature of gay love. The editors could have provided greater contextualization of Wieners’s life and work (for particularly the facsimiles and collages included within), but the work is able to speak for itself. With this publication and the recent release of his journals, Wieners’s plea not to be left alone is a step closer to being realized. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 09/21/2015 Release date: 10/01/2015 Genre: Fiction
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