Overview (Masterplots II: Christian Literature)
Charles Wright’s extensive and informative discussions of the shape and structure of poetry—his own and the work of the artists he admires—are an indication of the importance of these elements for him, but at least as important is his emphasis on the spiritual dimensions of a poem. In one of the first entries in “Improvisations on Form and Measure” (which he published in 1987 as an explanation of his aesthetic intentions in the form of a series of brief statements and quotations), he declared, “Form is nothing more than a transubstantiation of content.” This assertion forms a gloss on a familiar theme that combined the linguistic invention, which is a central feature of his work, with a vocabulary redolent with religious implications. Several entries later, again casting formal concerns within a religious context, he states, “Each line should be a station of the cross.”
These assertions seem to derive from a traditional Catholic foundation, but Wright has considerably complicated this impression with his observation that he “was formed by the catechism in Kingsport [Tennessee], the evangelical looniness at Sky Valley Community in North Carolina, and by songs and hymns,” and through his juxtaposition of High Renaissance depictions of religious icons (derived from the work of Dante Alighieri and other European classical masters) with the gospel music of American legends such as the Carter family, near Kingsport. Calling their music...
(The entire section is 903 words.)
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