Peter Wild William Pitt Root - Essay

William Pitt Root

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

[Peter Wild] is little known except to the readers of little literary magazines. This is too bad, because he is one of the better surrealist poets at a time when surrealism suffers in more public hands.

What is good about Wild's work is its lucence, vitality, and respect for mysteries. Image by image, it is clear, and often enough I finish reading a poem certain of the internal dynamic of coherence but unable to exhaust it by any description, contenting myself to experience what I cannot explain. Wild is weak in his tendency to indulge his eye or his ear even when they are receiving nothing worth making record of and when he overworks his imagination and comes up with a trifle from the shallows, such as the section entitled "God Is A Helicopter With A Big Searchlight" in 3 Poems.

His forte is the dreamstate in which what happens is clear, feels inevitable, and yet has as its frame of reference a kind of wonder…. (p. 51)

[The] title poem [of Fat Man Poems] defines both Wild's gifts and the rather limiting use he can put them to. "He walks through seas of himself,/always deeper; horizons fade", and it is as though he dissolves and is reassembled into a new strange form by the sea; then

he draws
his clustered world behind him;
happily waves his arms,
and the birds fly,
then settle on his head...

(The entire section is 629 words.)