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Bruce Weigl

Bruce Weigl was born in Lorain, Ohio, in 1949. He enlisted in the U.S. Army at age eighteen and served in Vietnam in 1967 and 1968. After returning to the United States, he received a BA from Oberlin College, an MA from the University of New Hampshire, and a PhD from the University of Utah.

Weigl published his first book of poetry, A Romance (University of Pittsburgh Press, 1979), while teaching at Lorain County Community College in Ohio. He has gone on to publish over a dozen poetry collections, including The Abundance of Nothing (Triquarterly Books, 2012), which was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize; Archaeology of the Circle: New and Selected Poems (Grove Press, 1999); Song of Napalm (Atlantic Monthly Press, 1994); and Sweet Lorain (Triquarterly Books, 1996).

Much of Weigl’s work is inspired by his experiences of the Vietnam War. In an interview with Blast Furnace Press, he says, “I wouldn’t have been a writer without the War because it forced me to go inward. And for some reason when I did, I found these stories.”

Weigl is also the author of The Circle of Hanh: A Memoir (Grove Press, 2000). He has received two Pushcart Prizes, a Patterson Poetry Prize, and a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. He has taught at the University of Arkansas, Old Dominion University, and Pennsylvania State University, and he currently teaches at Lorain County Community College. He lives in Lorain, Ohio.

Selected Bibliography

The Abundance of Nothing (Triquarterly Books, 2012)
Declension in the Village of Chung Luong (Ausable Press, 2006)
The Unraveling Strangeness (Grove Press, 2002)
Archaeology of the Circle: New and Selected Poems (Grove Press, 1999)
After the Others (Triquarterly Books, 1999)
Song of Napalm (Atlantic Monthly Press, 1994)
What Saves Us (Triquarterly, 1992)
Sweet Lorain (Triquarterly Books, 1996)
The Monkey Wars (University of Georgia Press, 1985)
A Romance (University of Pittsburgh Press, 1979)

The Circle of Hanh: A Memoir (Grove Press, 2000)

By This Poet


Dead Man, Thinking

    Snow geese in the light of morning sky, 
exactly at the start of spring.  I was 
    looking through the cracks of the blinds at my future which seemed 
absent of parades, for which I was grateful, 
    and only yesterday

I watched what an April wind could do 
    to a body wrapped in silk, 
though I turned my eyes away, 
    the way the teacher says, 
once the beauty was revealed.  

How long it takes to die, in the fifty-fifth year
    is what I thought about today.  
I told some truths so large, no one could bear to hear them.  
    I bow down to those who could not hear the truth.  
They could not hear the truth because they were afraid 
    that it would open a veil into nothing.  
I bow down to that nothing.  I bow down to a single red planet 
    I saw in the other world’s sky, 
    as if towards some
fleshy inevitability.  

    I bow down to the red planet. I bow down 
to the noisy birds, indigenous to this region. 
    Only sorrow can bend you in half 
    like you’ve seen on those whose loves have gone away. 
I bow down to those loves.  


     Today some things worked as they were meant to.
A big spring wind came up and blew down
     from the verdant neighborhood trees,
millions of those little spinning things,
     with seeds inside, and my heart woke up alive again too,
as if the brain could be erased of its angry hurt;
     fat chance of that, yet
things sometimes work as they were meant,
     like the torturer who finally can’t sleep,
or the god damn moon
     who sees everything we do
and who still comes up behind clouds
     spread out like hands to keep the light away.


I didn't know I was grateful
            for such late-autumn
                        bent-up cornfields

yellow in the after-harvest
             sun before the
                        cold plow turns it all over

into never.
            I didn't know
                        I would enter this music

that translates the world
             back into dirt fields
                         that have always called to me

as if I were a thing
              come from the dirt,
                          like a tuber,

or like a needful boy. End
             lonely days, I believe. End the exiled
                          and unraveling strangeness.