John Frederick Nims

(20 November 1913 - 13 January 1999 / Muskegon, Michigan)

Biography of John Frederick Nims

John Frederick Nims poet

John Frederick Nims was an American poet and academic.


He graduated from DePaul University, University of Notre Dame with an M.A., and from the University of Chicago with a Ph.D. in 1945. He published reviews of the works by Robert Lowell and W. S. Merwin. He taught English at Harvard University, the University of Florence, the University of Toronto, Williams College and the University of Missouri.

He was editor of Poetry magazine from 1978 to 1984.

The John Frederick Nims Memorial Prize, for poetry translation, is awarded by the Poetry Foundation.


American Academy of Arts and Letters grant
National Foundation for the Arts and Humanities grant
Institute of the Humanities fellowship
1982 Academy of American Poets fellowship
1986 Guggenheim Fellowship
1991 Aiken Taylor Award for Modern American Poetry.
1993 O.B. Hardison Prize

John Frederick Nims's Works:


Western wind. Random House. 1992
Zany in Denim (University of Arkansas Press, 1990)
The Six-Cornered Snowflake and Other Poems. New Directions Publishing. 1990, selected for the New York Public Library's Ninety from the Nineties.
The Kiss: A Jambalaya (1982)
Selected poems. University of Chicago Press. 1982.
Knowledge of the Evening (1960), which was nominated for a National Book Award
A Fountain in Kentucky (1950
The Iron Pastoral. William Sloane Associates. 1947.
Five Young American Poets (1944)


Robert Hedin, ed. (1996). "Trainwrecked Soldiers". The great machines: poems and songs of the American railroad. University of Iowa Press.


Euripides: Four Tragedies (1958)
Metamorphoses (1965)
Sappho to Valery: Poems in Translation (1971)
Saint John of the Cross (1979). Poems of St. John of the Cross. Translator John Frederick Nims. University of Chicago Press.
Western Wind: An Introduction to Poetry (1983)
Michelangelo Buonarroti (1998). The complete poems of Michelangelo. Translator John Frederick Nims. University of Chicago Press.


John Frederick Nims, ed. (1981). The Harper anthology of poetry. Harper & Row.

Martin Lammon, ed. (1996). "The Greatest English Lyric?". Written in water, written in stone: twenty years of Poets on poetry. University of Michigan Press.

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Christmas Tree

This seablue fir that rode the mountain storm
Is swaddled here in splints of tin to die.
Sofas around in chubby velvet swarm;
Onlooking cabinets glitter with flat eye;
Here lacquer in the branches runs like rain
And resin of treasure starts from every vein.

Light is a dancer here and cannot rest.

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