John Giorno is an American poet and performance artist. Born in New York, Giorno graduated from Columbia University in 1958, and first rose to prominence as the subject of Andy Warhol’s seminal film Sleep (1963). Warhol became Giorno’s lover and, together with his contemporaries Robert Rauschenberg and Jasper Johns, inspired Giorno to apply the Pop Art techniques of appropriation of found imagery to his poetry, resulting in his 1964 American Book of the Dead. In 1965, Giorno founded a not-for-profit production company, Giorno Poetry Systems, using innovative technology to connect poetry to new audiences. His Dial-a-Poem event, making short poems by contemporary poets available over the telephone, was presented at the Museum of Modern Art in 1970, and generated a series of LP records featuring artists William Burroughs, John Ashbery, Patti Smith, Laurie Anderson, Philip Glass, Robert Rauschenberg, Robert Mapplethorpe, and others.
A long-time practitioner of Tibetan Buddhism, Giorno was an outspoken critic of the Vietnam War and was involved in a number of anti-war protests. Giorno is known for his contributions to the poetry slam and performance art scenes, as well as his influence on the early Industrial music of artists Throbbing Gristle and Suicide, among others. Giorno is also an AIDS advocate, and founded the charity AIDS Treatment Project in 1984, which continues to offer financial and other support to individuals with HIV/AIDS. The first career-spanning collection of Giorno’s poems, Subduing Demons in America: Selected Poems 1962–2007, was published in 2008. In 2010, Giorno presented his first solo show at Nicole Klagsburn Gallery, Black Paintings and Drawings, exhibiting works that chronicled the evolution of poem painting.