Monday, 26 March 2012

John Allan Wyeth

His poetry having been neglected for 80 years, John Allan Wyeth is at long last receiving appropriate attention. BJ Omanson has established a new blog (here) in Wyeth's honour, and has posted an excellent essay of his own on Wyeth's work. The blog also lists many online resources, including an assessment by Dana Gioia of Wyeth's achievement, and three blogposts by yours truly.

Wyeth is a fantastic poet. If there is a better American soldier-poet of the First World War, I haven't encountered him yet.


  1. is anyone looking into Wyeth's life? The trunk of manuscripts in the attic is one possibility we'd all like, but even if he produced just one good book in more than eighty years, it's worth trying to see how that happened.

  2. Dana Gioia contacted Wyeth's family when he first began writing about him, and they let him examine all of Wyeth's papers that they had. Dana incorporated what he was shown by the family into his essay, "The Unknown Soldier", which opens the Univ of SC edition of the sonnets. --- I've looked for documents on, and discovered a couple of passenger ship records and a passport-- which is where the little b&w portrait shown above comes from. Gioia also discoverd some correspondence between Wyeth and Princeton University. Beyond these, no other documents have come to light. The family held out the possibility that more documents might eventually turn up in some family member's attic, but it was just a hypothetical possibility. Exhaustive searches on the web and various university databases, as well as the Reader's Guide to Periodical Literature have all come up empty for anything else published by Wyeth.

  3. Same anon:

    It's curious. For someone so able to leave so little a record of his existence- even if by outliving most of his contemporaries he ensured their silence- looks almost deliberate, on Wyeth's part or that of others. Even the silence around This Man's Army is strange- an awful warning of how easy it is to overlook goood work.