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Littlefoot A Poem

Charles Wright

Farrar, Straus and Giroux

0374531218

9780374531218

Trade Paperback

104 Pages

$13.00

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After the end of something, there comes another end,
This one behind you, and far away.
Only a lifetime can get you to it,
and then just barely.
 
Littlefoot
, the eighteenth book from one of this country’s most acclaimed poets, is an extended meditation on mortality, on the narrator’s search of the skies for a road map and for last instructions on “the other side of my own death.” Following the course of one year, the poet’s seventieth, we witness the seasons change over his familiar postage stamps of soil, realizing that we are reflected in them, that the true affinity is between writer and subject, human and nature, one becoming the other, as the river is like our blood, “it powers on, / out of sight, out of mind.” Seeded with lyrics of old love songs and spirituals, here we meet solitude, resignation, and a glad cry that while a return to the beloved earth is impossible, “all things come from splendor,” and the urgent question that the poet can't help but ask: “Will you miss me when I'm gone?"

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Praise for Littlefoot

“Though we seldom speak of Charles Wright as a religious poet, at least not as we might discuss George Herbert or Gerard Manley Hopkins, he is nevertheless among the most spiritual of American poets of the last 50 years . . . This latest collection, actually one long poem composed of 35 numbered but unnamed sections, is another in a series of maps that illustrate Wright’s way of living, as pilgrim, between the seen and the unseen, attempting to come as close as possible to the light. This life and art of pilgrimage—Wright has always been conscious of his age, of the ticking of the clock, and Littlefoot makes much of his arrival at 70—involves a rich and detailed awareness, in this case very like Hopkin’s own uncanny sensitivity, of the physical world. Landscape, memory, desire, and a wistful acknowledgment of death crowd each page . . . Wright is a pilgrim of the spirit, always on the road, like the Japanese poet Basho, always the reluctant disciple, unambiguous about the holy but burdened with doubt about the holes where the nails have been. And this confluence of spirituality and emptiness brings us to the heritage of Appalachia still present in Wright’s work.”—David Garrison, America

“Somewhere in his work, layered with echoes of the masters, there is always room to connect his highly polished poems to the world where most of us lead mundane lives. Littlefoot is a book length poem full of bluegrass, spirituals and Appalachian sunsets. And these, in turn, make up the soundtrack and scenery for the arc of time Wright has lived and recorded in these pages. But this is not the work of a journalist or a historian; it is closer to what an abstract painter produces. The shapes on the canvas are not meant to be reproductions of things in the world, but the world is all we know, and we can’t help seeing in the painting the shapes of familiar things, like the ones we saw in clouds when we were children.”—Dionisio Martinez, The Miami Herald

Reviews from Goodreads

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BOOK EXCERPTS

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Charles Wright, winner of the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Critics Circle Award, the National Book Award, and the Griffin Poetry Prize, teaches at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

  • Charles Wright

  • Charles Wright was awarded the National Book Award in Poetry in 1983 for Country Music and the 1995 Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize for Chickamauga. In 2008, he was honored for his lifetime achievement with the Rebekah Johnson Bobbitt National Prize for Poetry. He is also the winner of the Pulitzer Price, the National Book Critics Circle Award, the Griffin Poetry Prize, and the Bollingen Prize for American Poetry. In 2014, Wright was named the 20th Poet Laureate of the United States for 2014-2015. Wright lives in Charlottesville, Virginia.
  • Charles Wright © Holly Wright
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