Jon Swan is an American poet, playwright, librettist, journalist, and editor. He studied at Oberlin College, from which he graduated with a degree in English in 1950. In the 1950s, he taught at the Ecole d'Humanite in Switzerland, worked for the American Friends Service Committee, and received a master's degree in English from Boston University. From 1956 to 1960, he was a fact checker and poetry reader at The New Yorker. In 1962, he and Marianne Hamaker were married in Haarlem, the Netherlands. During the 1970s, he worked as a translator, from Dutch and German, and was senior editor at Saturday Review and, later, senior editor of the Columbia Journalism Review. After retiring in 1994, he worked as an editor in Beijing and Kathmandu. As a free-lance journalist, he has written about environmental issues in the U.S. and Iceland. He was awarded a Rockefeller Grant for playwriting in 1968 and a Guggenheim Fellowship for filmwriting in 1981.
Swan has published three collections of poems -- Journeys and Return, A Door to the Forest, and Landscape & Language—and a collection of one-act plays. Among the plays produced are Three Cheers for What's-its-Name (1968), Fireworks (1969), Man In Space (1969), an adaptation of Aesop's Fables (1972), and Mostly Wolfgang (1991). In collaboration with Ulu Grosbard, Swan translated Peter Weiss's Die Ermittlung (The Investigation) into English for the work's premiere on Broadway in 1966 and translated Heinrich von Kleist's Der Zerbrochne Krug (The Broken Pitcher) for its New York premiere in 1981. He is also the author of the libretto of William Russo's chamber opera The Shepherds' Christmas (1988). Recently, in collaboration with Carl Weber, he completed a translation, of Peter Weiss's play Hölderlin, scheduled for publication in 2010.
Swan lives with his wife, Marianne, in Yarmouth, Maine. They have three daughters.
- Jon Swan at John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation.org Archived 2011-06-03 at the Wayback Machine.
- Barnes, Clive (June 12, 1969). "Theater: 'Fireworks' Offers 3 Views of American Way of Life; Jon Swan's Triple Bill Views the Press 'Football' Used to Draw Analogy With War". The New York Times. Retrieved April 7, 2009.
- "The Letters of Mozart As the Theme for a Play". The New York Times. December 17, 1991. Retrieved April 7, 2009.
- Gent, George (August 10, 1966). "Weiss Play on Auschtwitz Trial Listed by N.B.C.-TV for 1967". The New York Times. Retrieved April 7, 2009.
- BGussow, Mel (October 8, 1981). "STAGE: KLEIST'S 'THE BROKEN PITCHER'". The New York Times. Retrieved April 7, 2009.
- Crutchfield, Will (December 16, 1988). "Review/Opera; Medieval 'Shepherds' Christmas'". The New York Times. Retrieved April 7, 2009.