by Charles Wright


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Almost thirty years ago, Charles Wright (who teaches at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville and has won both the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award for Poetry) began a poetic project of astonishing scope—a series of three trilogies. The first trilogy was collected in Country Music, the second in The World of the Ten Thousand Things, and the third began with Chickamauga and continued with Black Zodiac. Appalachia is the last book in the final trilogy of this pathbreaking and majestic series.

If Country Music traced "Wright's journey from the soil to the stars" and The World of the Ten Thousand Things "lovingly detailed" our world and made "a visionary map of the world beyond" (James Longenbach, The Nation), this final book in Wright's great work reveals a master's confrontation with his own mortality and his stunning ability to discover transcendence in the most beautifully ordinary of landscapes.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780374526245
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Publication date: 11/29/1999
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 80
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.19(d)

About the Author

Charles Wright was awarded the National Book Award in Poetry in 1983 for Country Music and the 1995 Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize for Chickamauga. He teaches at the University of Virginia, in Charlottesville.

Read an Excerpt


Stray Paragraphs in February, Year of the Rat

East of town, the countryside unwrinkles and smooths out
Unctuously toward the tidewater and gruff Atlantic.
A love of landscape's a true affection for regret, I've found,
Forever joined, forever apart,
                               outside us yet ourselves.

Renunciation, it's hard to learn, is now our ecstasy.
However, if God were still around,
                            he'd swallow our sighs in his nothingness.

The dregs of the absolute are slow sift in my blood,
Dead branches down after high winds, dead yard grass and
The sure accumulation of all that's not revealed
Rises like snow in my bare places,
                                     cross-whipped and openmouthed.

Our lives can't be lived in flames.
Our lives can't be lit like saints'hearts,
                            seared between heaven and earth.

February, old head-turner, cut us some slack, grind of bone
On bone, such melancholy music.
Lift up that far corner of landscape,
                                        there, toward the west.
Let some of the deep light in, the arterial kind.

Stray Paragraphs in April, Year of the Rat

Only the dead can be born again, and then not much.
I wish I were a mole in the ground,
                                     eyes that see in the dark.

Attentive without an object of attentiveness,
Unhappy without an object of unhappiness--
Desire in its highest form,
                            dog prayer, diminishment ...

If we were to walk for a hundred years, we could never take
One step toward heaven--
                         you have to wait to be gathered.

Two cardinals, two blood clots,
Cast loose in the cold, invisible arteries of the air.
If they ever stop, the sky will stop.

Affliction's a gift, Simone Weil thought--
The world becomes more abundant in severest light.

April, old courtesan, high-styler of months, dampen our mouths.

The dense and moist and cold and dark come together here.

The soul is air, and it maintains us.

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

"Has any other American poet been writing as beautifully and daringly over the past twenty-five years as Charles Wright? Possibly. But I cannot imagine who it would be. . . . [Wright] plumbs our deepest relationships with nature, time, love, death, creation."—Philip Levine, American Poet citation for the Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize

"In an age of casual faithlessness, Wright successfully reconstitutes the provocative tension between belief and materialism."—Albert Mobilio, The Village Voice

"A significant and true reflection of our time."—Adam Kirsch, The New York Times Book Review

"A culmination of his career. . . . Appalachia shows again why Wright is generally considered one of America's leading poets."—Harold Branam, Magill's Literary Annual

"Wright, recipient of numerous prestigious literary prizes, is a philosopher-poet with a gift for gloriously whimsical imagery and a keen sense of the ephemeral. His inquisitive poems reside at the crux of faith and art. . . . In bright leaping lines reminiscent of Gerard Manley Hopkins, a kindred spirit also enthralled by nature yet keenly aware of our isolation from it, Wright tries to connect with the spiritual by conjuring the ancient beaming of stars, winter's starkness, and the valor of flowers. Finally, in sweet, bemused surrender, he acknowledges both the impossibility of certainty, and our insatiable hunger for it."—Donna Seaman, Booklist

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