William Wantling: 1933 – 1974 was an ex-Marine and an ex-convict. He was addicted to drugs and alcohol. He also was in possession of a unique literary/poetic genius: even now, 45 years later, his work resounds with an often disturbing and lyrical beauty. Life’s events are mirrored in his poems. He takes you into a world that is terrifying but also is full of moments of tenderness. The poems convey a deep sense of compassion and humanity and openness. They offer a glimpse into the poet’s vulnerabilities as a flawed human being and as a unique poetic voice.
As Judge of the William Wantling Prize for Poetry, John D. Robinson will be looking for poems that exhibit the lyrical beauty and tenderness, honesty and openness often found in Wantling’s poetry.