From Publishers Weekly
The widely esteemed Virginia-based poet collects a decade's worth of striking description and laid-back meditation in this sample of work from his last three books: the energetic Chickamauga, the introspective (and Pulitzer Prize-winning) Black Zodiac and the elegiac Appalachia. Leaping and skating among apothegms and visual intricacies, Wright's skeins of beautiful lines offer the shifting emotional textures of his day-to-day thought and experience: "Into the world tumult," he advises his poems, "into the chaos of every day,/ Go quietly, quietly." "Landscape's a lever of transcendence," he writes, though elsewhere he insists he's just setting down impressions--"Journal and landscape I tried to resuscitate both." Wright's "verbal amulets" chronicle the world's imperviousness to our words for it, and our stubborn and lambent need to find those words--one description of the Blue Ridge or the Adriatic claims to respond to an ancient Chinese poet, the next to a contemporary philosopher. Wright's power lies less in whole poems than in lines within them: those linear strengths owe something to Ezra Pound, and something more to the antiphonal balances of the Psalms. Wright ends the volume with seven new short poems: sometimes lugubrious, sometimes rapturous, they focus more than ever on aging and loss--"time, the true dissolver, eats away at our fingertips." "I've talked about one thing for thirty years,/ and said it time and again," another new poem declares; in an important sense all Wright's recent career makes up one poem, a continual, often compelling exploration of seeing, thinking and the dialectic between them--at one moment Wright is declaring "Whatever has been will be again,/ unaltered, ever returning"; at the next he's drawn to the "Serenity of the rhododendrons, pink and white." (Apr.)
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“There are precious few contemporary poets in whose work I find as much sheer wisdom as in Wright's. . . . His ascetic discipline is an instruction and an aesthetic. The whole world seems to orbit in a kind of meditative, slow circle around Wright's grave influence.” ―David Baker, Poetry
“Truly an event. One of our national treasures has been watching us and listening to us for decades, and [Negative Blue] is proof that he's watched and listened well. . . . One of the remarkable things about Wright is precisely what happens in the back yard, on the front lawn, or at a cafe. His poems are visions of things ethereal, but even with all their luminescence and otherworldly shades, they remain within earshot of a lawn mower starting up or cicadas announcing the hour.” ―Dionisio D. Martinez, Miami Herald
“[Wright is] a master craftsman who if asked would humbly call himself a journeyman, for the mastery of an art form, as Pound said, is the work of a lifetime.” ―Eric Pankey, Verse
“In an age of casual faithlessness, Wright successfully reconstitutes the provocative tension between belief and materialism.” ―Albert Mobilio, The Village Voice
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