The speaker in John Burton Logan’s poetry is a wanderer, due, in part, to Logan’s belief that poets are constant, spiritual travelers, but also because Logan’s life could not be identified with any one particular place. The outward search for home, a place of rest, combined with Logan’s inward search, gives the poems their universal appeal.
Logan graduated magna cum laude from Coe College in 1943 with a degree in biology. In 1945, he married; it was a union that produced nine children but that eventually ended in divorce. He received his M.A. in English in 1949 from Iowa State University, and in the years following, he did occasional graduate work in philosophy at Georgetown University and the University of Notre Dame. Beginning in 1947 and proceeding chronologically, Logan taught at St. John’s College in Maryland, Notre Dame, St. Mary’s College in California, the University of Washington, San Francisco State College, and from 1966 until 1985, the State University of New York at Buffalo. Logan served as resident writer for countless poetry workshops and colonies, and because of his popular and distinctive reading style, he maintained a busy schedule of public appearances.
Logan was reared as a Protestant but converted to Catholicism after his marriage. His early work reflects a clear and strong religious orientation that takes the Christian God seriously. After the early books, however, religious allusions eventually disappear, and only in a few later poems did Logan return to religious themes. He died of a heart ailment and complications from gall bladder surgery in San Francisco on November 6, 1987.