Tag Archives: Charles Wright


August is kind of an odd month, summer ending, a little melancholy, a little heavy feeling, (especially if it’s an afternoon when you’re listening to the Assassination of Jesse James soundtrack and Antony & the Johnsons, and even when the weather isn’t ungodly hot). August is vacation month, although “No One Goes to Paris In August,” where “Nobody has time like this” and days grow “Late with shade, low, low, long.”

On an August afternoon you might sport a “floppy existential sky-blue hat” and say to your woman, “Woman, I got the blues” and “Sweet Mercy, I worship / the curvature of your ass” and “For us there’s no reason the scorpion / has to become our faith healer.” (“Woman, I Got The Blues” by Yusef Komunyakaa, in Copacetic and his collecteds.) Or on an August afternoon you might sit down for a long, and hi-larious, yarn like David Lee’s “The Tree” (in Day’s Work and A Legacy of Shadows .)

Late August can also be “a pressure drop, / rain, a sob in the body,” and it’s a good time, they say, to plant iris,  or just to sit in the backyard, where “Nothing is endless but the sky. / The flies come back, and the afternoon / Teeters a bit on its green edges,/ then settles like dead weight / Next to our memories.”

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I re-read Charles Wright‘s  Appalachia this morning (and Black Zodiac (for which he won the Pulitzer Prize in 1998), both excellent) and was struck by — in addition of course to just how good he is, and how the feel of his long lines (in his later books anyway) differs from so many other poets I like, and how deep and meditative the poems feel  — just how fantastic the titles in Appalachia are.

Titles, as a point of craft, can be quite difficult. And a great title does not a great poem make, just as a pedestrian title does not a bad poem make, of course. Mark Doty, Elizabeth Bishop, and Cornelius Eady are wonderful poets, but they won’t be on my favorite titles list, nor many others; they have good titles, that set up and affect the rest of the lines (“Poem” is actually a perfectly fine way to go) but that are unremarkable out of context. Dickinson didn’t title any of hers. But, a great title can be an awfully fun way to start things. Continue reading


Weekend Getaway

Gas up the car, put on some poetic tunes, and head to the coast to get to know some fish or crustaceans.

Or head inland, if you like, to a creek. Or go higher, and climb around over the rocks.

Or just drive, and drive, and drive. (But not for so long that you’re tempted to marry your automobile…)

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