Bruce Weigl Analysis

Other literary forms

(Poets and Poetry in America)

Although Bruce Weigl (WI-gehl) has published primarily poetry, he also translated poetry from the Vietnamese—Poems from Captured Documents (1994; with Thanh Nguyen) and Mountain River: Vietnamese Poetry from the Wars, 1945-1995 (1998; with Nguyen Ba Chung and Kevin Bowen)—and Romanian, Liliana Ursu’s Angel Riding a Beast (1998; with the author). Weigl’s translations make available poems that are not readily accessible to the common reader. Weigl has spoken of how pervasive poetry is in Southeast Asia; reading the Vietnamese perspective provides a fuller picture of the impact of the war. In addition, Weigl has written several volumes of criticism, including The Giver of Morning: On Dave Smith (1982), The Imagination as Glory: The Poetry of James Dickey (1984; with T. R. Hummer), and Charles Simic: Essays on the Poetry (1996), as well as a memoir, The Circle of Hahn: A Memoir (2000).


(Poets and Poetry in America)

Published internationally, Bruce Weigl’s poetry has been translated into Vietnamese, Czech, Dutch, German, Spanish, Chinese, Slovenian, Bulgarian, and Romanian. He has received many national awards, including a Paterson Poetry Prize, two Pushcart Prizes, a Cleveland Arts Prize, and the Poet’s Prize from the Academy of American Poets, as well as fellowships from the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, the Yaddo Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts. In 1988, he was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize for Song of Napalm. He served as a poetry panel chair for the National Book Award in 2003 and won the Lannan Literary Award for Poetry in 2006 and the Ohioana Book Award for Poetry in 2007. His poems have appeared in The Nation, American Poetry Review, Ploughshares, The New Yorker, and Paris Review, as well as many other magazines and journals.


(Poets and Poetry in America)

Beidler, Philip. Re-writing America: Vietnam Authors in Their Generation. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1991. Beidler notes the development of Weigl’s career as a direct emergence from the evolution of his mythic consciousness as a result of the war. The book presents an examination of A Romance and The Monkey Wars within the tradition of a visionary quest.

Christopher, Renny. The Viet Nam War: The American War. Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1995. This book discusses how Weigl’s poetry moves beyond reportage into a realm of introspection, an internal dialogue in the context of external events. Uses “Him, on the Bicycle” to illustrate Weigl’s use of perceived and experienced distance from self and other as an attempt to bridge cultures.

Gotera, Vincente F. “Bringing Vietnam Home: Bruce Weigl’s The Monkey Wars.” In Search and Clear, edited by William J. Searle. Bowling Green, Ohio: Bowling Green State University Popular Press, 1988. The author notes how Weigl never allows the reader to dismiss the inextricable link to American violence and pathos. War is an exaggeration of common forms of violence. Weigl’s work breaks apart the myth that the United States regained national innocence by admitting that its involvement in Vietnam was a mistake.


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