John Nims

John Frederick Nims (1913–1999), born in Muskegon, Michigan, received a BA from DePaul University, an MA from the University of Notre Dame, and a PhD from the University of Chicago. He wrote eight books of poetry including Knowledge of the Evening, which was nominated for a National Book Award. In addition to writing great poetry, Nims was well-known for his exquisite translations. He made a name for himself through his contributions to Five Young American Poets and through his reviews of Robert Lowell and W.S. Merton. Nims was the editor of Poetry Magazine from 1978 to 1984 and was incredibly influential in this position. He also taught at various institutions, including Harvard University, the University of Florence, the University of Toronto, and Williams College. Nims won several awards including the American Academy of Arts and Letters Award, a National Foundation for the Arts and Humanities grant, and fellowships from the Academy of American Poets, The Guggenheim Foundation, and The Institute of the Humanities. He passed away in 1999 in Chicago, Illinois.

The Six-Cornered Snowflake And Other Poems

Poetry by John Nims

As a preeminent modernist poet and translator of the classics, John Frederick Nims’s work is an elegant fusion of contemporary sensibility with formalist experimentation. But form, for this writer of meditative verse, is only a helpmeet to the quintessential content of the poem, the meaning that gives it value in our time and, one hopes, beyond. Concerning the formal elements of poetry, Nims comments: “One might say they are like the scaffolding at a construction site, meant to be thrown away and not regarded once the building is completed.…
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John Frederick Nims has enough skill to dazzle Franz Liszt himself…one can always marvel at the extremely difficult bravura-cadenza effects he brings off with zest and aplomb.
—James Dickey
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