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Black Zodiac: Poems Paperback – March 4, 1998
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“Black Zodiac concentrates on Charles Wright's considerable poetic endowment into a new poignance that has to be termed religious. Some of the poems achieve an authentic gnosis in a rapt mode of negative transcendence.” ―Harold Bloom
“Black Zodiac occupies the position in Wright's career that The Auroras of Autumn holds in Wallace Stevens's: Having long since mastered his characteristic voice, the poet has passed through the terrifying moment when mastery threatens to become mannerism, and he has emerged as a poet whose every line seems completely recognizable and at the same time utterly fresh.” ―James Longenbach, The Nation
“Combines an impeccable musical and prosaic sense with the kind of humility possessed by the masters.” ―Carol Muske, The New York Times Book Review
About the Author
Charles Wright has won, among other honors, the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry, the National Book Critics Circle Award, the National Book Award, and the Academy of American Poets' 1996 Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize. He teaches at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville.
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Top customer reviews
Although I don't think that Black Zodiac deserves the Pulitzer, I do think that Mr. Wright should have won the Pulitzer for China Trace, The Southern Cross and The Other Side of the River. The Other Side of the River and selections from Zone Journals were Mr. Wright's best books. After Zone Journals, Mr. Wright began to depend on skill, technique and repetition as a means of `crafting' his poems. In his earlier work, it seems as though his poems were spontaneously inspired and that they came together in entire stanzas or full sequences in which very little revision was applied, save for touch-up considerations. In the Paris Review Interview, Mr. Wright explained that he now counts every syllable and that he works on one line at a time. Unfortunately, it shows.
Here is an example of Mr. Wright's earlier work. These lines are taken from The Other Side of the River:
What is it about a known landscape/that tends to undo us,/That shuffles and picks us out/For terminal demarcation, the way a field of lupine/Seen in profusion deep in the timber/Suddenly seems to rise like a lavender ground fog/At noon?/What is it inside the imagination that keeps surprising us/At odd moments when something is given back/We didn't know we had had/In solitude, spontaneously, and with great joy?
`Lonesome Pine Special'
And now consider these lines from Black Zodiac: ...
For instance, in 1944...I was nine, the fourth grade.../I remember telling Brooklyn, my best friend, my **** was stiff all night./Nine years old! My ****! All night!/We talked about it for days,/Oak Ridge abstracted and elsewhere,/,D-Day and Normandy come and gone,/All eyes on the new world's sun king,/Its rising up and its going down.
`Apologia Pro Vita Sua'
Those lines are not only bad,they're embarrassing! Apparently, Mr. Wright is incapable of distinguishing good from bad poetry. If he is,then his editor at FSG should have enough sense to tell this author when sections of the poem do not work.
If you wish to read Mr. Wright's best poetry,poetry that really sets the page on fire, read his earlier work from China Trace up to Zone Journals.