John Wieners (1934-2002) was a Beat poet who studied at Black Mountain College under Charles Olson and Robert Duncan from 1955 to 1956. Originally from the Boston area, Wieners moved to San Francisco in 1957, where he befriended Wallace Berman and, via Berman, became part of the San Francisco Poetry Renaissance. Like that of many other Beat poets, Wieners poetry mainly dealt with sexual and drug-related experiments and freely took inspiration from jazz as regards rhythm and improvisation. His first book The Hotel Wentley Poems was published in 1958, which was followed by numerous other poetry and prose compilations, such as Ace of Pentacles (1964), Nerves (1970) and Cultural Affairs in Boston: Poetry & Prose 1956–1985 (1988). Wieners returned to the East Coast in 1960, where he was committed to psychiatric hospitals several times, lived with Herbert Huncke, and found employment at the University of Buffalo. He was active in anti-war and gay liberation movements until he died at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston in 2002 after having collapsed a few days earlier.
A selection of 15 of Wieners’s poems has now been published by Moloko Plus on CD and, in both English and a German translation by Pociao, in the accompanying 44-page booklet. On the CD Wieners’s poems are read and put to music by acclaimed British poet Jeremy Reed and musician Itchy Ear, who together form Jeremy Reed & The Ginger Light. “There are poets who live poetry, and others who write it tangentially to a career, and their psychic realities are radically different”, concludes Jeremy Reed on the final page of the booklet.