William Wright

willwrightWilliam Wright is the author of eight collections of poetry: four full length books, including Tree Heresies (Mercer University Press, forthcoming in 2015), Night Field Anecdote (Louisiana Literature Press, 2011), Bledsoe (Texas Review Press, 2011), and Dark Orchard (Texas Review Press, 2005). Wright’s chapbooks are April Creatures (Blue Horse Press, forthcoming in 2015), Sleep Paralysis, Winner of the South Carolina Poetry Initiative Prize, selected by Kwame Dawes, (Stepping Stones Press, 2012), Xylem & Heartwood (Finishing Line, 2013) , and The Ghost Narratives (Finishing Line, 2008). Wright is Series Editor and Volume Co-editor of The Southern Poetry Anthology, a multivolume series celebrating contemporary writing of the American South, published by Texas Review Press. Wright is also co-editor of Hard Lines: Rough South Poetry, to be published by the University of South Carolina Press in 2015. Additionally Wright serves as Assistant Editor for Shenandoah, translates German poetry, and edits several volumes, including The World Is Charged: Poetic Engagements with Gerard Manley Hopkins (with Daniel Westover). Wright won the 2012 Porter Fleming Prize in Poetry and will serve as Writer-in-Residence at the University of Tennessee during the Spring 2016 term.
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Sample Poems
BARN GOTHIC
Red as a cardinal in winter, it leans ruined
in the gray field, form falling against a sycamore,
its older, wiser wife.
Closer in, a fox den
in the hay tunnel light where green eyes haunt
the nearby woods and stars cast silver
glyphs on the rotting floor:
Rain has felled the structure’s roof.
Here horses pitched and leaned
into chaff, awaiting work,
this room still alive in smells of oil, dung,
and cedar-heart. Swallows twig
warped boards, black widows
float, wait
in corners to wrap and gore what passes.
Wasps caulk the loft’s cracked seams,
and mice hide from owls, eyes,
their lives the barn’s heart
beating behind the walls.
What to name it but beauty
this world craves, but will never allow,
not wholly,
the horsemint scent that finds
the barn’s chinks. Moonflower
gripping, twining
the rusted scythe and the burled
yawn of the caved-in door. Or the beauty earth
sculpts of us without consent,
remnants hallowed, restored.
Autumns, when the air shucks
summer rain to hollow starriness,
the moon strikes the barn just right:
White moths hoard here where hanging
lanterns have long been snuffed,
where the only fires are the moths themselves,
their flock  come to love this place and perhaps
the stars, too, all pure, radiant, dying.
– from Shenandoah, Vol. 63 #1

 

NIGHTMARE, REVISED
Now it is not a man pinned eviscerated
to a barn door and stretched mothlike
to show his brisket,
the drying jewels of his guts
and his teeth red-tinged, eyes
scappled bald. Now it is
not a plum-colored sky over
foothills of ruined chimneys,
the world forever October.
Instead, I stand in a field where there is no
barn, and the pinned man, my father,
has been let down, sewn
back to life: He walks through his home,
loneliness his dark carapace.
His mother lies in an oak box
in a South Carolina graveyard. By now
her eyes are fused and sunken. By now her mouth
is a leather smudge. She wanted cremation
but the family would not have it.
The bones of her fingers poke through skin—
The moon emerges. The smell
of smoke blooms on the sweet-sharp air,
and I feel a joy under the thin arbor
of passing clouds. Stars shimmer,
exact. I feel a joy, because there is no secret
order of moth or plum, chimney
or bone, only the pungent fact
that somewhere, somewhere beyond
my sight, a fire burns part of this
land gone, gone.
– from Rattle #39, Spring 2013
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