Monday, September 04, 2006

Charles Wright's New Book

There is a handful of poets that no matter my location or financial situation, when they come out with a new book, I buy it. Charles Wright is one of those poets. He’s found a way, over the years, to enact perception, to enact the mind thinking in a beautifully gestural, persuasive manner. Work like his makes comments by people like John Barr (saying we’ve worn out our period style and need a new type of poem / poet) evaporate. These poems are the antidote.

Here’s one of the poems from his new book Scar Tissue, re-published on Poetry Daily.


The older we get, the deeper we dig into our childhoods,
Hoping to find the radiant cell
That washed us, and caused our lives
                                       to glow in the dark like clock hands
Endlessly turning toward the future,
Tomorrow, day after tomorrow, the day after that,
                                                   all golden, all in good time

Hiwassee Dam, North Carolina.
                                               Still 1942,
Still campfire smoke in both our eyes, my brother and I
Gaze far out at the lake in sunflame,
Expecting our father at any moment, like Charon, to appear
Back out of the light from the other side,
                 low-gunwaled and loaded down with our slippery dreams.

Other incidents flicker like foxfire in the black
Isolate distance of memory,
                                        cross-eyed, horizon-haired.
Which one, is it one, is it anyone that cleans us, clears us,
That relimbs our lives to a shining

One month without rain, two months,
                                          third month of the new year,
Afternoon breeze-rustle dry in the dry needles of hemlock and pine.
I can't get down deep enough.
Sunlight flaps its enormous wings and lifts off from the backyard,
The wind rattles its raw throat,
                                               but I still can't go deep enough.


At 9/05/2006 8:34 AM, Blogger louise said...

I like Charles Wright an awful lot too, though lots of people seem to complain that he doesn't evolve book to book. But I do enjoy him, even if it is, to some extent, more of the same.

At 9/05/2006 2:37 PM, Blogger John Gallaher said...

Point taken. I've heard that as well. I think it's because what CW investigates in his poetry is a process of investigation. As it's all the process of a mind in process, it tends to hum and fold back on itself. Or something like that. But, as Neil Young once said, "They all sound the same . . . it's all one song." (!)


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