Husband Atticus Carr
Hamilton College, 198 College Hill Rd, Clinton, NY 13323
San Francisco State University, 1600 Holloway Ave, San Francisco, CA 94132
Born on May 12, 1942, Peter Weltner grew up in a religious Lutheran family
in Winston-Salem and Greensboro, North Carolina. Weltner met his current
lover, medical social worker Atticus Carr (born January 17, 1954), in 1986.
He showed an early interest in painting, and when he was a boy his parents sent him to Salem Academy and to St. Leo's Convent in Winston-Salem to study art more seriously. Around the age of 15, Weltner says, religion "fell apart" for him and he had a sense that reading and the whole study of art was an attempt to find another source of religious meaning. When he was 17, he attended an exhibition of artist Gerald Coble's work in Greensboro and was so excited by what he saw that he got in touch with Coble, who then took him on as a student. For over a year, Weltner went to Coble's cabin every Saturday morning to work on painting and to see more clearly "what making modern art was all about." During the same period, Weltner returned to New York City, which he had visited often with his family while he was growing up, to see the work of the Abstract Expressionists. These artists had a profound influence upon Weltner, as did the writers he discovered in magazines like Arts and Art News which he would buy at a newsstand down Market Street from his family's church after Sunday services.
In 1960, Weltner entered Hamilton College in Clinton, New York. He felt that going to college was in many ways "a digression" from what he had been learning in his friendship and work with Coble. Nevertheless, Weltner received his A.B. from Hamilton and immediately afterward attended graduate school at Indiana University, where he completed his Ph.D. in English Literature in 1969. In August of that year, he moved to San Francisco to teach at San Francisco State University, where he is still employed as a professor.
1969 to 1972 were "three years of the usual coming-out madness," and in the
fall of 1973, Weltner met Bob Mohr. They fell in love and lived together for
the next eight years. Starting in 1973, Weltner and poets Linda Gregg, Robert
Hass, John Logan, and several other writers began to meet regularly at
Weltner's apartment on Telegraph Hill to discuss poetry and writing, though at
the time Weltner was writing only critical essays and reviews. Before he could
begin writing fiction, he sensed he had to free himself from the academic
strictures which for the preceding ten years had limited the kind of writing
he really wanted to do. More importantly, he had to find "a sense of a world."
Until he had that sense of a world and a "sense of comfort in it," he says, "I
don't think I could really have started writing." Once he began in 1976,
however, he wrote a long story or short novel a year, though he refrained from
seeking publication for over ten years.
In 1989, his collection of stories Beachside Entries/Specific Ghosts was published, followed the next year by his novel, Identity & Difference. In 1991, more of Weltner's fiction began to appear in print. Five Fingers Press published his collection of three short novels entitled In a Time of Combat for the Angel and his story "At Dawn the Guard Advances in the West" appeared in the special issue of Five Fingers Review entitled Vanishing Point: Spirituality and the Avant-Garde. In 1992, his long story "The Greek Head" appeared in both the June issue of American Short Fiction and George Stambolian's fiction anthology Men on Men 4.
Since this bio-bibliographic essay was published, Weltner has published two critically acclaimed books: a collection of short fiction, The Risk of His Music (Graywolf Press, 1997) and a novel How the Body Prays (Graywolf Press, 1999). (Originally published in Contemporary Gay American Novelists: A Bio-Bibliographical Critical Sourcebook, ed. Emmanuel S. Nelson. Westport, Conn.:Greenwood Press, 1993.)