A Wild Perfection (Magill's Literary Annual 2006)
It is indicative of the scope of this collection of James Wright’s letters that the title, A Wild Perfection, comes not from Wright himself but from a letter to him from fellow poet Stanley Kunitz, quoted by Wright in a letter to yet another poet, James Dickey. The community of postmodern American poets suggested by that triangle is at the heart of A Wild Perfection: It is, in a phrase coeditor Saundra Rose Maley borrows from Mortimer Adler and uses as the title of her introduction, “The Great Conversation.” The conversation goes beyond the twentieth century and beyond America. In his letters to friends, Wright works out quarrels and queries with the writers he is reading: Plato, Catullus, Horace, Leo Tolstoy, Rainer Maria Rilke, Georg Trakl, and others. Yet many of the recipients of his letters also constitute virtually any critic’s short list of major American poets of the late twentieth century: alphabetically, A. R. Ammons, Robert Bly, Louise Bogan, Dickey, Richard Eberhart, Donald Hall, Galway Kinnell, Kunitz, Denise Levertov, Philip Levine, Robert Lowell, J. D. McClatchy, John Crowe Ransom, Kenneth Rexroth, Theodore Roethke, M. L. Rosenthal, Anne Sexton, Leslie Marmon Silko, W. D. Snodgrass, Allen Tate, Diane Wakoski, and Austin Warren.
Few, however, will turn to the letters of a poet to read about other poets. Readers...
(The entire section is 1797 words.)
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