John Meade Haines Analysis

Other literary forms

(Poets and Poetry in America)

Though his primary medium has been poetry, John Meade Haines has published several books of prose, three of them substantial works of nonfiction. Living off the Country: Essays on Poetry and Place (1981) collects writing about Alaska and the wilderness, poets and poetry, a long interview, and autobiographical sketches. The Stars, the Snow, the Fire: Twenty-five Years in the Northern Wilderness—A Memoir (1989) collects eighteen essays about aspects of life in hunting, trapping, foraging, exploring, and dwelling in a cabin. Fables and Distances: New and Selected Essays (1996) collects letters to journal editors, plus essays about literature, nature, living in the wilderness, and an interview.


(Poets and Poetry in America)

John Meade Haines has won many awards for his poetry, largely in recognition of his focus on nature, humanity’s relationship to the natural world, and social justice. These honors include two Guggenheim Foundation Fellowships (1965, 1984), a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship (1967), an Amy Lowell Scholarship (1976-1977), the Alice Fay di Castagnola Prize, an Ingram Merrill Foundation Grant, the Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize (1991), the Poets’ Prize (1991), a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Alaska Center for the Book (1994), an Academy Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters (1995), an Academy of American Poets Fellowship (1997), and the Aiken Taylor Award in Modern American Poetry (2008). He served as poet laureate for the state of Alaska from 1969 to 1971. His focus on the wilderness in the West, especially Alaska and Montana, is suggested by the Alaska Governor’s Award in the Arts for life contributions to literary arts in the state (1982) and the Western States Arts Federation Lifetime Achievement Award (1990).


(Poets and Poetry in America)

Bezner, Kevin, and Kevin Walzer, eds. The Wilderness of Vision: On the Poetry of John Haines. Brownsville, Oreg.: Story Line; 1996. A substantial 252-page anthology containing an introduction, biographical time line, sixteen articles and reviews, plus primary and secondary bibliographies.

Hudson, Marc. “’Voice at Once Contemporary and Ancient’: The Enduring Value of John Haines’s Winter News.” Sewanee Review 117, no. 4 (2009): 576-591. An in-depth analysis by a critic and poet, who was inspired by the book.

Mason, David. “The Tenacity of John Haines.” Sewanee Review 106, no. 1 (1998): 103-111. Placement of the poet’s work in the context of other modern poets, plus a comment on the Bezner and Walzer critical anthology.

Rogers, Steven B., ed. A Gradual Twilight: An Appreciation of John Haines. Fort Lee, N.J.: CavanKerry Press, 2003. A collection of essays that examine Haines’s life and work.

Taylor, Henry. “A Form of Patience: The Poems of John Haines.” In Twayne Companion to Contemporary Literature in English, I: Ammons-Lurie, edited by R. H. W. Dillard and Amanda Cockrell. New York: Twayne-Thomson Gale, 2002. Comprehensive coverage of all the poetry through 2001.

Trueblood, Valerie. “One to Whom the Great Announcements Are Made.” American Poetry Review (January/February, 2001): 47-50. Brief but comprehensive coverage of the prose as well as poetry through 2001.

Wild, Peter. John Haines. Boise, Idaho: Boise State University Press, 1985. A pioneering fifty-one-page monograph covering the prose as well as poetry through 1982.