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Joshua Weiner

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Professor, English

(301) 405-3797

3113 Tawes Hall
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Research Expertise

Creative Writing
Modernist
Poetics
Post-1900 British and Irish
Postmodern and Contemporary

I'm a poet living in Washington D.C. with my wife, the novelist Sarah Blake, and our two boys. I spend a lot of my time reading poems and trying to write them, but on occasion I commit criticism, and have published research on the poets Thomas McGrath, Mina Loy, and Thom Gunn, as well as essays on Emily Dickinson & Thelonious Monk, Fulke Greville, Lynette Roberts, Charles Reznikoff, Philip Larkin, Seamus Heaney, Kenneth Koch, William Carlos Williams, and others.  I've also written on German language poets and fiction writers, such as Gottfried Benn, Ernst Meister, Lutz Seiler, Anna Seghers, Christa Wolf, Brecht, and Rilke; and have tried my hand at translating some of them as well.  In addition to teaching the poetry workshops offered by the MFA Program in Creative Writing at Maryland, I've taught graduate seminars on the long poem; modern British poetry; postmodern American poetry; poetry & materialism from Edmund Spenser to Anne Carson (with Gerard Passannante); 'Ecopoetics: A Genealogy (with Gerard Passannante); a transhistorical/transnational poetics seminar called 'God Death Time Space Language Form'; and, most recently, 'Squaring the Circle: Readings in the Prose Poem, 1869-2019.'

Awards & Grants

Guggenheim Fellowship

Guggenheim Fellowships are intended for men and women who have already demonstrated exceptional capacity for productive scholarship or exceptional creative ability in the arts.

English

Lead: Joshua Weiner
Dates:
The Foundation receives between 3,500 and 4,000 applications each year, and approximately 200 Fellowships are awarded each year.

The Rome Prize

He is the recipient of a 2002 Whiting Writer's Award and the 2003-2004 Rome Prize from the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters

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Lead: Joshua Weiner
Dates:
The Rome Prize is awarded by the American Academy in Rome, in Rome, Italy. Approximately thirty scholars and artists are selected each year to receive a study fellowship at the academy. Prizes have been awarded annually since 1921.

Publications

Berlin Notebook: Where are the Refugees?

The chronicle of a fall and spring in Berlin during the peak influx of refugees into Europe in 2015-16, Joshua Weiner’s Berlin Notebook opens a new view on German society’s attempt to cope with an impossible situation.

English | Center for Literary and Comparative Studies

Lead: Joshua Weiner
Dates:

from the publishers:

The chronicle of a fall and spring in Berlin during the peak influx of refugees into Europe in 2015-16, Joshua Weiner’s Berlin Notebook opens a new view on German society’s attempt to cope with an impossible situation: millions of people displaced by the Syrian civil war, fleeing violence, and seeking safety and the possibilities of a new life in the west. As some Germans, feeling the burden of the nation’s dark past, try to aid and shelter desperate asylum seekers, others are skeptical of the government’s ability to contain the growing numbers; they feel the danger of hostile strangers, and the threat to the nation’s culture and identity. Unlike other contemporary reports on the situation in Europe, Weiner’s sui generis writing includes interviews not only with refugees from the east, but also everyday Berliners, natives and ex-pats – musicians, poets, shopkeepers, students, activists, rabbis, museum guides, artists, intellectuals, and those, too, who have joined the rising far-right Alternative for Germany party, and the Pegida movement against immigration. Intermixed with interviews, reportage, and meditations on life in Europe’s fastest growing capital city, Weiner thinks about the language and literature of the country, weaving together strands of its ancient and more recent history with meditations on Goethe, Brecht, Arendt, Heidegger, Joseph Roth and others that inflect our thinking about refugees, nationhood, and our ethical connection to strangers.

The Figure of a Man Being Swallowed by a Fish

At the heart of Joshua Weiner’s new book is an extended poem with a bold political dimension and great intellectual ambition.

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Lead: Joshua Weiner
Dates:

At the heart of Joshua Weiner’s new book is an extended poem with a bold political dimension and great intellectual ambition. It fuses the poet’s point of view with Walt Whitman’s to narrate a decentered time-traveling collage about Rock Creek, a tributary of the Potomac that runs through Washington, DC. For Weiner, Rock Creek is the location of myriad kinds of movement, streaming, and joining: personal enterprise and financial capital; national politics, murder, sex, and homelessness; the Civil War and collective history; music, spiritual awakening, personal memory, and pastoral vision. The questions that arise from the opening foundational poem inform the others in the collection, which range widely from the dramatic arrival of an uncanny charismatic totem that titles the volume to intimate reflections on family, illness, and dream visions. 

 

The World's Room

A dynamic first collection in which the literary and the personal, the elevated and the slangy, the sacred and the profane are beautifully intertwined.

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Lead: Joshua Weiner
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From nursery rhymes to riddles to prose poems, Joshua Weiner’s work displays boundless imaginative and linguistic possibilities.

From the Book of Giants

The most powerful poems in Weiner's second collection combine narrative and lyric elements and range across subjects and kinds of speech.

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Lead: Joshua Weiner
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An account of a son's baseball game on the White House lawn that somehow connects the dots between Pol Pot, Cal Ripken, our current president and the Wild Cherry refrain "play that funky music, white boy... till you die." A later long poem riffs on Berkeley in the '90s and intertwines the stories of a local "life-artist" called the Polka Dot Man and an overzealous activist killed by an overzealous cop. These poems aren't political in any easy way, but have politics, memory and language at their center in a manner that recalls former poet laureate Robert Hass's work. When the lines aren't tensed enough, or when Weiner (The World's Room, 2001) loses himself in reverie without pitting reason against it, the poems can edge toward cliché. But these moments are relatively few—Weiner's formal and lyric gifts both soothe and shock in these poems.

At the Barriers: On the Poetry of Thom Gunn

Maverick gay poetic icon Thom Gunn (1929–2004) and his body of work have long dared the British and American poetry establishments either to claim or disavow him.

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Lead: Joshua Weiner
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The first book-length study of this major poet, At the Barriers surveys Gunn’s career from his youth in 1930s Britain to his final years in California, from his earliest publications to his later unpublished notebooks, bringing together some of the most important poet-critics from both sides of the Atlantic to assess his oeuvre. This landmark volume traces how Gunn, in both his life and his writings, pushed at boundaries of different kinds, be they geographic, sexual, or poetic. At the Barriers will solidify Gunn’s rightful place in the pantheon of Anglo-American letters.

The Figure of a Man Being Swallowed by a Fish

Joshua Weiner, "'The Figure of a Man Being Swallowed by a Fish'" from The Figure of a Man Being Swallowed by a Fish. Copyright © 2013

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Lead: Joshua Weiner
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Reprinted by permission of The University of Chicago Press.

Berlin Notebook

Joshua Weiner's Berlin Notebook opens a new view on German society's attempt to cope with an impossible situation.

English

Lead: Joshua Weiner
Dates:
Millions of people displaced by the Syrian civil war, fleeing violence, and seeking safety and the possibilities of a new life in the west. As some Germans, feeling the burden of the nation's dark past, try to aid and shelter desperate asylum seekers, others are skeptical of the government's ability to contain the growing numbers; they feel the danger of hostile strangers, and the threat to the nation's culture and identity. Unlike other contemporary reports on the situation in Europe, Weiner's sui generis writing includes interviews not only with refugees from the east, but also everyday Berliners, natives and ex-pats – musicians, poets, shopkeepers, students, activists, rabbis, museum guides, artists, intellectuals, and those, too, who have joined the rising far-right Alternative for Germany party, and the Pegida movement against immigration. Intermixed with interviews, reportage, and meditations on life in Europe's fastest growing capital city, Weiner thinks about the language and literature of the country, weaving together strands of its ancient and more recent history with meditations on Goethe, Brecht, Arendt, Heidegger, Joseph Roth and others that inflect our thinking about refugees, nationhood, and our ethical connection to strangers.

Everything I Do I Do Good: Trumpoems

So, the world gets smaller as the United States and Europe come closer in yet another way. One of the things we share, of course, and that the U.S. has shared now, particularly, with Germany, for quite a while, is the political phenomenon and expression

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Lead: Joshua Weiner
Dates:
I think that here, in Germany, populism has been perceived lately and all too accurately, as a problem and an opportunity–that is, its ideological plasticity allows it, as a notion and a political platform, to be picked up not only by the left and the right, but to be used by each of them against the other. Why else would or could Chancellor Angela Merkel adopt an anti-populist stance in opposition to both Die Linke and AfD parties as she navigated through the ideological Scylla & Charybdis on her way to a fourth term? Back in the States, we remain rather mystified by the notion of populism, maybe because we are still tangled in its roots in late-19th century politics and the Midwestern “heartland” ideals that continue to define much of how Americans view their country.

The World's Room

The World's Room is a dynamic first collection in which the literary and the personal, the elevated and the slangy, the sacred and the profane are beautifully intertwined.

English

Lead: Joshua Weiner
Dates:

The World's Room is a dynamic first collection in which the literary and the personal, the elevated and the slangy, the sacred and the profane are beautifully intertwined. From nursery rhymes to riddles to prose poems, Joshua Weiner's work displays boundless imaginative and linguistic possibilities.

From the Book of Giants

Taking its title from a set of writings found in the Dead Sea Scrolls, From the Book of Giants retunes the signal broadcast from these ancient fragments

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Lead: Joshua Weiner
Dates:

Taking its title from a set of writings found in the Dead Sea Scrolls, From the Book of Giants retunes the signal broadcast from these ancient fragments, transmitting a new sound in the shape of a Roman drain cover, in imitations of Dante and Martial, in the voice of a cricket and the hard-boiled American photographer Weegee, in elegies both public and personal, and in poems that range from the social speech of letters to the gnomic language of riddles. Out of poetry's "complex of complaint and praise," Weiner discovers, in one poem, his own complicity in Empire during his son's baseball game at the White House. In another, an embroidered parrot sings a hermetic nursery rhyme to an infant after 9/11.