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The Delicacy and Strength of Lace: Letters Between Leslie Marmon Silko and James Wright
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The Delicacy and Strength of Lace: Letters Between Leslie Marmon Silko and James Wright

4.50  ·  Rating details ·  236 ratings  ·  49 reviews
This moving, eighteen-month exchange of correspondence chronicles the friendship-through-the-mail of two extraordinary writers.
Leslie Marmon Silko is a poet and novelist. James Wright won the Pulitzer Prize in 1972 for his "Collected Poems." They met only twice. First, briefly, in 1975, at a writers conference in Michigan. Their correspondence began three years later, aft
Paperback, 106 pages
Published April 1st 1986 by Graywolf Press (first published November 1st 1985)
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Average rating 4.50  · 
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 ·  236 ratings  ·  49 reviews

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Annika Barranti
Aug 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I bought this book because James Wright was my uncle (though we never met to my knowledge—he died when I was just a year old). The book is made up of letters between two poets who greatly admire each other and become the closest of friends. I was taken by surprise by the book, which moved me absolutely to tears and allowed me to get to know my uncle.
May 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Exquisite, a beautiful, too brief collection of letters between two poets, written over a period of 18 months bringing something special to each others lives at a time when they both needed it, she knowingly, he not realising he was living his last months of life throughout this correspondence which comes to such an abrupt end.
“I am overwhelmed sometimes and feel a great deal of wonder at words, just simple words and how deeply we can touch each other with them, though I know that most of the ti
Mar 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The greatest favor I can do for readers who love writing and writers and storytelling and love itself, its fulfillment and timeless endurance, is to say: read this book.
Mar 22, 2020 rated it really liked it
i adored on how two individual two authors grow closer together through letters and distance between them.
i took my own sweet time reading each letters with my busy life ://///
May 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Few people write letters anymore. I wish they did. This collection of letters is written between two of my favorite authors over the course of 18 months. Never having met, Leslie Marmon Silko - young Lacuna novelist, and James Wright - middle-aged, widely-regarded Harvard poet, formed a profound friendship through letters. Watching their friendship evolve through stories, landscape, and much life over a much-too-short period of months was astounding, heart-warming, and affirming. In our current ...more
Jun 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Although I read a lot of fiction, I read in search of the truth, not to be entertained, and this collection of letters is as close to life on the page as you can get. That the exchange happens between two people -- a novelist and a poet -- who barely know each other is a testament to the generosity of spirt, depth of appreciation, and openness to chance that both writers truly possessed. The brevity of their exchange (cut short by cancer) makes it that much more intense and poignant and remarkab ...more
Apr 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Both writers with such appreciation and care for language and what language origin can express. Letters like this will probably never be written again. Connections. Awareness. Storytelling. Process. And again, connections... the power and importance.
Jun 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Am reading this again after several years. This correspondence of letters remains one of the most powerful collection of words I have yet read. A glimpse, . . . a turning back of the sheets, a privileged invitation to softly walk over, place your hand on the shoulder, and share in the exchange; the writing of letters between two sensitive, talented, and in the end, extremely generous people.

" . . . when someone dies, you don't 'get over it' by forgetting, you get over it by remembering, and by r
Nicole Lisa
Nov 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2017
Ok, I'm actually about 10 pages from the end, but since I can't read the part about cancer and dying for reasons I'm going to just say I read it.

Most of the book is incredibly soothing and hopeful; only two poets supporting each other could have resulted in such beautiful letters about art and life and the balance between the two. Plus some funny and heartbreaking stories about a mean rooster. I didn't even know Silko wrote poetry before this but I have to find more based on the few that are inc
Caroline Stephens
Sep 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing
To sit with this book is to sit with the essential parts of being human: suffering and death, but also joy and friendship. I read it slowly, at times like a novel, at other times like a book of prayers. Now that it's over I am left with a sense of gratitude: for the writers for writing it and for Anne Wright for sharing it with all of us. ...more
Liz Williams
Mar 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Aug 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
For a professional-ish friendship this correspondence got almost steamy at the end. I'm not familiar with either of these authors, and I find poetry a difficult genre, but I'm inspired to check out some of their writing now. ...more
Aug 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing
The Delicacy and Strength of Lace made me glad to be a human, and for the connections I’ve made, especially the fleeting ones that are full of meaning. Leslie’s last letter to James was so moving, and helpful!
Apr 29, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Luminous and heart-breaking correspondence between two of the most important writers in my life.
Luke Winter
Aug 04, 2020 rated it really liked it
a stunning exchange of letters of deep admiration.
Aug 16, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
this book of letters is so exquisite! i've devoured it-- watching the intimacy grow between these two poets over the sharing of the small things that become profound is so, well, extraordinary really-- from the cautious formality of the first handful of letters to the movement toward the familiar and fond-- nicknames and "love" to close--and then the beginning to reveal personal crises and preoccupations--
to share hearts and the pain in them-- as silko writes: " i believe more than ever that it
Nov 04, 2012 rated it it was amazing
James Wright had only recently happened upon a renewal in his patterns of work when he met Leslie Marmon Silko at an academic conference, then wrote her essentially a fan letter in response to reading her fine novel, Ceremony; returning his letter, Silko suggested that she might hear him out in his implicit offer to mentor her, and gently bring along a career that probably anyway did not require his mentorship. None of which turned out to be pertinent, for before the friendship had grown much be ...more
Mar 22, 2008 rated it it was amazing
This book was great to stumble upon, really timely for me, and inspiring. Its the letter correspondence between Leslie Marmon Silko ("Ceremony", "Laguna Woman" and other great books) and James Wright ("The Branch Will Not Break" among other poetry collections) and they write about their lives, writing, story telling, the nature of solitude, and the vitality of spirit that informs both of their writings. The letters are longer from Leslie, and really let you into her thought process and character ...more
Jan 30, 2008 rated it liked it
"I am overwhelmed sometimes and feel a great deal of wonder at words, just simple words and how deeply we can touch each other with them, though I know that most of the time language is the most abused of all human abilities or traits. But as you said, you can't or won't be indifferent. I realize many wonderful things about language--"realize" in the sense of feeling or understanding intuitively: I realize such things most often when I am greatly concerned with another person's feelings. I think ...more
Dec 28, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
I’ve always been a sucker for the epistolary, whether fiction or not (as here).

These are really quite lovely, however, in their own right. Poets with great command of language, imagery, sensory. Their friendship grows across the page and their words become quite magical as they get to the nitty gritty of their lives.

Lovely, and sometimes, sad to read. I can’t remember where I saw this book recommended now, but I’m so glad I did.

Really makes you want to do nothing else but curl up with collection
Mar 27, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Again, an oldie that I have to dig deep in the memory banks to conjure up details for -- but a book that I truly loved that left a deep imprint in my mind. In this book Leslie Marmon Silko (famed author of Yellow Woman, among others) corresponds by letter with author James Wright as he is dying of cancer. Their letters are beautiful and moving, because of their writing abilities and the deep connection they create. This is a very moving book.
Monica Madaus
Oct 24, 2013 rated it really liked it
I have occasionally seen someone say in print Keats' in loved in part for his letters as well as his poems. Some of the off-hand anecdotes here would suggest it. And it is fun to listen in on writers of this caliber musing about the things they have written, where, why and the things they plan to do next. The fact there wasn't much next left for Wright at this point is handled as an incidental. Which will recommend it to some and not others, I suppose. ...more
Mark Valentine
Jan 17, 2016 rated it it was amazing
My goodness! I am glad I read this book sitting down. The exquisite language expressed in the exchanged letters between Silko and Wright exceeds my expectations. The book has an expert title: perfect.

I am moved by the sensitivity of the two artists; I sense that they held (and Silko still does) a magnanimous kindness and high regard for language and storytelling and delicate experience--I think this a marvelous book.
Rachel Wagner
Aug 07, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: memoirs, topten, favorites
I love this book. It is kind of a fantasy for any letter writer. These 2 fabulous poets manage to create a powerful non-sexual relationship through the written word alone. The message this book espouses is that friendship is important and that it deserves to be prized and treated with reverance and care.
Cameron Scott
Aug 26, 2007 rated it it was amazing
If you like Leslie Marmon Silko or James Wright, these letters back and forth, before Wright passed away, are one of the most amazing sets around. It follows a friendship unfolding, and the lives of two writers. Not sure if they even deserve to be in book form, they are incredibly intimate and... sacred. Truly amazing and touching.
Dec 10, 2007 rated it really liked it
A beautiful correspondence. The writing is quite engaging - and it's always fun to read someone else's letters (grin). It's made me want to read some of their published work - to continue the vein of the prose and bits of everydayness that they describe so eloquently. I wish we all wrote more letters - real, tear open the envelope, unfold the paper letters. ...more
Dec 15, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: WRITERS

Jan 16, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This is the first book in a long time that I have really loved. The letters between Silko and Wright are gorgeous and surprisingly touching, even when they are just writing about roosters or the difficulties of being both a teacher and a writer. It also made me appreciate them as writers even more than before. I want to buy copies for everyone.
Sally Brock
Oct 14, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Books like this make me terrifically nostalgic for handwritten letters. Here are two writers who'd met only briefly, who learn to develop a friendship with some real intimacy. Oh that it was so brief and that James Wright passed away so young. It seems to me that they needed each other for balance and support. I loved it. ...more
Aug 11, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: biographies
This book is a gem displaying the friendship between two poets I admire, James Wright and Leslie Marmon Silko. The language in the letters is poetry itself and the friendship that develops between people who meet twice in their lives is beautiful to read.
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Leslie Marmon Silko (born Leslie Marmon; born March 5, 1948) is a Native American writer of the Laguna Pueblo tribe, and one of the key figures in the First Wave of what literary critic Kenneth Lincoln has called the Native American Renaissance.

Silko was a debut recipient of the MacArthur Foundation Grant, now known as the "Genius Grant", in 1981 and the Native Writers' Circle of the Americas Life

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