Born in Red Oak, Iowa, on January 23, 1923, John Logan attended Coe College, received an MA from Iowa University, and did postgraduate work in philosophy at Georgetown and Notre Dame.
Logan’s first book, A Cycle for Mother Cabrini (Grove Press, 1955), introduced many of the religious and metaphysical themes the poet would explore throughout his writing life. Although he eventually abandoned Catholicism, Logan continued to address issues of hope, community, and identity. In The Poem and Its Skin, critic John Crowe Ransom identified these concerns as “the secular priesthood” of the poet.
Like many of the poets of his generation who have been dubbed “confessional,” Logan often wrote candidly about his own life and struggles. In this regard, his work has been compared to that of poets such as Robert Lowell and John Berryman. Poet Hayden Carruth praised Logan for beginning “to break up the formalism of Lowell, [Elizabeth] Bishop, [Richard] Wilbur, [Anthony] Hecht, et al., [and] creating a new lyricism.”
Logan was the author of fourteen books of poetry. Among his most well-known works are Only the Dreamer Can Change the Dream (Ecco Press, 1981), which won the Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize in 1982; The Bridge of Change: Poems 1974–1980 (BOA Editions, 1979); Spring of the Thief (Knopf, 1963).
Logan’s other honors and awards include a Rockefeller Foundation grant, the Morton Dauwen Zabel Award, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and Wayne State University’s Miles Modern Poetry Prize. Logan also wrote an autobiographical novel, a children’s book, a play, and a collection of essays.
Logan taught at many colleges and universities, and from 1966 to 1985, was an English professor at the State University of New York at Buffalo. He was poetry editor for both The Nation and Critic, and a founder and co-editor of Choice. He died from complications due to surgery on November 6, 1987, in San Francisco. BOA Editions posthumously published his Collected Poems in 1988.