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John Logan


Born in Red Oak, Iowa, on January 23, 1923, John Logan attended Coe College, received an M.A. from Iowa University, and did graduate work in philosophy at Georgetown and Notre Dame. He married in 1945 and later divorced; he was the father of nine children. His first book, A Cycle for Mother Cabrini (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 with poets such as Robert Lowell and John Berryman. Poet Hayden Carruth praised Logan for beginning "to break up the formalism of Lowell, Bishop, Wilbur, Hecht, et al., [and] creating a new lyricism."

Logan was the author of fourteen books of poetry. Among his most well-known books are Spring of the Thief (1963), The Bridge of Change (1979), and Only the Dreamer Can Change the Dream, which won the Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize in 1982. His 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.

John 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 a poetry editor for both The Nation and Critic, and a founder and co-editor of Choice. He died from complications of surgery on November 6, 1987, in San Francisco, CA. BOA Editions published his Collected Poems in 1988.

A Selected Bibliography


A Cycle for Mother Cabrini (1955)
Ghosts of the Heart (1960)
John Logan: The Collected Poems (1989)
Only the Dreamer Can Change the Dream: Selected Poems (1981)
Spring of the Thief: Poems, 1960-1962, (1963)
The Anonymous Lover: New Poems (1973)
The Bridge of Change: Poems, 1974-1980 (1979)
The Transformation: Poems, January to March, 1981 (1983)
The Zig Zag Walk: Poems, 1963-1968 (1973)


A Ballet for the Ear: Interviews, Essays, and Reviews (1983)
China, Old and New (1982)
John Logan: The Collected Fiction (1991)
The House That Jack Built: or, A Portrait of the Artist as a Sensualist (1974)

By This Poet


Three Moves

Three moves in sixth months and I remain 
the same.
Two homes made two friends.
The third leaves me with myself again.
(We hardly speak.)
Here I am with tame ducks
and my neighbors' boats,
only this electric heat
against the April damp.
I have a friend named Frank—
the only one who ever dares to call
and ask me, "How's your soul?"
I hadn't thought about it for a while,
and was ashamed to say I didn't know.
I have no priest for now.
will forgive me then. Will you
Tame birds and my neighbors' boats.
The ducks honk about the floats . . .
They walk dead drunk onto the land and grounds,
iridescent blue and black and green and brown.
They live on swill
our aged houseboats spill.
But still they are beautiful.
Look! The duck with its unlikely beak
has stopped to pick
and pull
at the potted daffodil.
Then again they sway home
to dream
bright gardens of fish in the early night.
Oh these ducks are all right.
They will survive.
But I am sorry I do not often see them climb.
Poor sons-a-bitching ducks.
You're all fucked up.
What do you do that for?
Why don't you hover near the sun anymore?
Afraid you'll melt?
These foolish ducks lack a sense of guilt,
and so all their multi-thousand-mile range
is too short for the hope of change.