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Sestets: Poems by Charles Wright

Sestets: Poems (2009)

by Charles Wright

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A publisher sent me this book for some reason – perhaps he or she had my address and some empty envelopes and nothing to do on a quiet afternoon. I am ambivalent about Charles Wright. Sometimes I like his poems – quite a few in this collection actually – and sometimes I like them until the end. These poems have a discordant, unexpected twist at the end that jars my vision of the poem. He probably intends that reaction in a reader. Twists and turns inhabit the ends of many, many poems, and I don’t mind those. Wright’s just happen to cross over the line. For example, here is “‘Well, Get up Rounder, Let a Working Man Lay Down’” [Note: structure lost in transference to LT]

The kingdom of minutiae,
that tight place where the most of us live,
Is the kingdom of the saved,
Those who exist between the cracks,
those just under the details.

When the hand comes down, the wing-white hand,
We are the heads of hair
and finger bones yanked out of their shoes,
We are the Rapture’s children. (19)

If this doesn’t make sense to you, that’s poetry. I can only suggest each reader must decide for him or herself. Here’s a poem – my favorite in this collection – that is perfect and complete in my view, “‘It’s Sweet to Be Remembered’”:

No one’s remembered much longer than a rock
is remembered beside the road
If he’s lucky or
Some tune or harsh word
uttered in childhood or back in the day.

Still how nice to imagine some kid someday
picking that rock up and holding it in his hand
Briefly before he chucks it
Deep in the woods in a sunny spot in the tall grass. (32)

How many times have I picked up random stones and tossed them into the woods, a ravine, a lake, a stream, or the ocean? Have I altered the course of history? Have I ever so slightly unbalanced the delicate scales of existence? This is what I love about poetry -- the images, the memories, the connections to my own existence. 4 stars

--Jim, 12/20/2010 (The Winter Solstice) ( )
  rmckeown | Dec 20, 2010 |
I like Charles Wright's ambition to try something new and vastly different than he's done before, but it doesn't _feel_ any newer. In fact, it feels old and for the most part, tired. LITTLEFOOT remains his best work in recent years. ( )
  kingremi | Apr 21, 2010 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0374532141, Paperback)

Sestets is the nineteenth book from one of the country’s most acclaimed poets, a masterpiece of formal rigor and a profound meditation on nature and mortality. It is yet another virtuosic showcase for Charles Wright’s acclaimed descriptive powers, and also an inquiry into the nature of description itself, both seductive and dangerous: “a virtual world/ Unfit for the virtuous.” Like his previous books, Sestets is seeded with the lyrics of old love songs and spirituals, and “there is always room to connect his highly polished poems to the world where most of us lead mundane lives” (Miami Herald). Soaring and earthy, lyrical and direct, Charles Wright is an American treasure, and his search for a truth that transcends change and death settles finally on the beauties of nature and language: “Time is a graceless enemy, but purls as it comes and goes.”

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:19:48 -0400)

The nineteenth book of poetry from the Pulitzer Prize winning poet.

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