A Queer Excess: the Supplication of John Wieners

Nat Raha in The Critical Flame:

ScreenHunter_1371 Sep. 18 19.13The poetry of John Wieners is lyric, bold, shameless. It is a poetry of dereliction in the face of the artist’s almost religious devotion to verse and its inherent magic. His early work—the era between The Hotel Wentley Poems (1958) to Ace of Pentacles (1964)—swings with blues and sexual desire, the glamour of drugs and counter-cultures, gay subculture, celebrities and starlets, and tarot, all sources to feed his magical art. Wieners’s work in subsequent years contends with romantic loss and poverty, juxtaposed with moments of pleasure in sexual and gender transgression, and a political awakening in the face of state harassment and psychiatric incarceration. In his 1958 breakthrough volume, Wieners announces his radical poetics coolly, almost objectively:

I find a pillow to
muffle the sounds I make.
I am engaged in taking away
from God his sound.

The erasure of God’s articulation is achieved by the young poet’s flawed articulation of worlds that negate the very premise of an all-loving God—worlds that the popular morality of that era would certainly describe as vice-ridden, worlds that were outside the bounds of sanctioned activities. Supplication to lyric poetry, in light of the failure of God, is a necessity of survival, the “last defense” of the poet.

More here.