Thursday, September 6, 2007

Review - Charles Wright: Littlefoot

Charles Wright is my favorite living poet, and one who is distinctly spiritual in his approach and content. This article appeared in the News Observer (North Carolina).

The graceful pilgrim carries on

Poetic careers take all sorts of paths. You've got your Allen Ginsberg, who burst onto the scene with what became his most famous poem, "Howl," and then he sort of noodled around for the rest of the run, becoming a personality as much as poet. Or you've got Sylvia Plath, who wrote most of her best work in the months before her suicide and was not around to see it gain the attention it deserved.And then you've got Charles Wright. Born in the mountains of Tennessee, Wright spent his early life in the lush landscapes of the Southern Appalachian mountains where his father, a civil engineer, helped build dams for the TVA. The arc of his career has been a steady hike beginning in those landscapes and heading straight for the celestial questions that arose out of early religious training at isolated places like Sky Valley camp in Western North Carolina and Christ School in Arden. He's won a host of major awards including the Pulitzer Prize, National Book Award and Los Angeles Times Book Prize. His big project has been a trilogy of trilogies, nine books that taken together he calls "The Appalachian Book of the Dead." But in all that, Wright has continued to explore his approach to the poetic line, his use of narrative and his arrangement of images. This summer he published his 18th book, "Littlefoot." The title comes, somewhat enigmatically, from a horse on Wright's Montana ranch, where he spends his summers. But corralling enigmas is part of Wright's mission.

His is a pilgrim's journey of both technique and subject matter.

Read the rest of this review.

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