A Wild Perfection The Selected Letters of James Wright

James Wright; Edited by Anne Wright and Saundra Rose Maley, with Jonathan Blunk

Farrar, Straus and Giroux




672 Pages



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"There is something about the very form and occasion of a letter—the possibility it offers, the chance to be as open and tentative and uncertain as one likes and also the chance to formulate certain ideas, very precisely—if one is lucky in one's thoughts," wrote James Wright, one of the greatest lyric poets of the last century, in a letter. A Wild Perfection is a riveting account that captures the exhilarating and moving correspondence between Wright and his many friends. In letters to felloe poets Donald Hall, Theodore Roethke, Galway Kinell, James Dickey, Mary Oliver, and Robert Bly, Wright explored many subjects, poetic and personal, from his creative process to his struggles with depression and illness.

Bright threads of wit, gallantry, and passion for describing his travels and his beloved natural world run through these letters, which begin in 1946 in Martins Ferry, Ohio, the hometown he would memorial in verse, and end in New York City, where he lived for the last fourteen years of his life. A Wild Perfection is no less than an epistolary chronicle of significant part of the midcentury American poetry renaissance, as well as the clearest biographical picture now available of this major American Poet.


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A Wild Perfection
Beginning1946-1953I began in Ohio. I still dream of home.--from "Stages on a Journey Westward"At Fort Lewis, Washington, Twelve years ago, when I was eighteen, We fired all day long at practice targets And wounded one of our own men. When I ran to help him, I saw a whole gray earth Opening in a vein of his cry: From full green to emptiness, A mile's field of dead fir stumps High as the level of adolescent waists, Low as a man's knees. We had mown a grove down. I was one of the State's gardeners.--from "The Trees in Minnesota"As far as the school proper is concerned, Jack and
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  • James Wright; Edited by Anne Wright and Saundra Rose Maley, with Jonathan Blunk

  • James Wright (1927-80) won the Pulitzer Prize for poetry in 1972. His books include Saint Judas, Shall We Gather at the River, and The Branch Will Never Break. FSG published Above the River: The Complete Poems in 1990.