Mark's Reviews > Selected Poems

Selected Poems by James Wright
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's review
Sep 18, 07

bookshelves: poetry
Read in September, 2007

James Wright grew up in Martins Ferry, Ohio, not far from where I live. I liked this collection very much. He writes in accessible language, even though his meanings and references aren't always transparent. There is a certain amount of descriptive nature poetry and prose poems, but many of his poems have to do with memories from his Ohio childhood, in which family relationships and thoughts about life, death, loss and meaning are sketched in evocative and often surreal ways.

I particularly liked one poem about the last whorehouse in Wheeling, W.Va., where he fantasizes seeing the women flow out of the house every evening and walk down into the Ohio
River (the river is a major theme in his poems). Perhaps because I've seen both cities, I loved the ending of this poem, which goes:

"I do not know how it was
They could drown every evening.
What time near dawn did they climb up the other shore,
Drying their wings?

"For the river at Wheeling, West Virginia,
Has only two shores:
The one in hell, the other
in Bridgeport, Ohio.

"And nobody would commit suicide, only
To find beyond death
Bridgeport, Ohio."

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