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 Poems

Love Poem

My clumsiest dear, whose hands shipwreck vases,
At whose quick touch all glasses chip and ring,
Whose palms are bulls in china, burs in linen,
And have no cunning with any soft thing... more »

Madrigal In Time Of War

Beside the rivers of the midnight town
Where four-foot couples love and paupers drown,
Shots of quick hell we took, our final kiss,... more »

Blind Joy

Crude seeing’s all our joy: could we discern
The cold dark infinite vast where atoms burn
—Lone suns—in flesh, our treasure and our play,... more »

John Frederick Nims Quotes

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