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Negative Blue: Selected Later Poems Hardcover – 10 Apr 2000

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There are precious few contemporary poets in whose work I find as much sheer wisdom as in Wright's… -- Poetry

These are the poems of a master craftsman… -- Verse

This haunted, elegaic book could not have been more beautiful. -- The Nation --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 6 reviews
24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
Welcome to Paradise 20 April 2000
By Robert M. West - Published on
Format: Hardcover
It's interesting to see what Wright has done with this long-awaited third installment in his Dantesque trilogy. NEGATIVE BLUE is subtitled SELECTED LATER POEMS, but in fact it includes nearly everything from the last three books. There are a handful of poems excluded from CHICKAMAUGA, BLACK ZODIAC is reprinted complete, and only one poem is excluded from APPALACHIA. Also, there is a fine (and sometimes funny) concluding sequence of new poems, "North American Bear," which cements the book's relationship to the Paradiso.
Wright can sometimes drift into opacity, but on the whole these are fascinating poems about his three favorite subjects: language, landscape, and the idea of God.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Thoughtful poetry of subtle beauty 12 May 2009
By D. R. Greenfield - Published on
Format: Paperback
Charles Wright's poetry, despite its many merits, is not especially reader-friendly. I worked my way through most of the poems of this volume and found most of them slipping through my mind like a stream of running water: poem followed poem until they all began to sound alike; I could not really grab onto any of them like I can those of several other well-known poets. Although this may sound like it is a criticism, it is not. For Wright has cultivated a unique voice, and as a result you can always identify a Wright poem by its unique wordprint.

Reading a Wright poem almost invariably brings landscape into focus. The landscape imagery appears as a means of setting the mood of the poem, and as an inspiration for what the poet meditates upon: most often the vagaries and puzzlements of life. Wright does not seem to have any explicit subjects for many of his poems, just diverse almost random observations, sometimes in the form of quotations from other authors coupled with observations of the landscape.

The reader who persists with this poetry will eventually grow to admire it, but like broccoli it is an acquired taste. There is a subtle and elusive beauty hidden within many of the poems, which is not immediately apparent; you have to look for it. One example might be the following lines from Apologia Pro Vita Sua:

How like the past the clouds are,
Building and disappearing along the horizon,
Inflecting the mountains,
laying their shadows under our feet,

For us to cross over on.
Out of their insides fire falls, ice falls,
What we remember that still remembers us, earth and air fall.

Neither, however, can resurrect or redeem us,
Moving, as both must, ever away toward opposite corners.
Neither has been where we're going,
bereft of an attitude.

Personally speaking, I have grown to enjoy reading Wright's work. But Wright does definitely take some getting used to. There is a certain bleak quality in these poems, a sense of abandonment. Wright takes the negative path, through the dark night of the soul, and attempts to capture the hidden beauty of that path. His voice appears to be stoic and resigned, but not cynical. I recommend this book for anyone who enjoys thoughtful, sophisticated poetry.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Too blue? 9 July 2012
By Gary Sprandel - Published on
Format: Paperback
This Tennessean, Pulitzer prize winner, seems to have a fondness for Chinese poets like Tu Fu, and perhaps references that I missed. Although I found many individual lines that struck me ("Day after day, I become of less use to myself. / Like this mockingbird, I flirt from one thing to the next."). but sometimes I couldn't seen the direction of overall poem or book. Perhaps this was intention, (he says "The poem is a code with no message: The point of the mask is not the mask but the face underneath". ). Perhaps for me, he is too dark "since nature is corrupt" .. or "Even the angels will hide there heads". Or perhaps since we are too similar in age, I don't want to confront my mortality like Wright does. But perhaps occasionally he does surprise "After the rainfall, a little Buddha in each drop". So the book didn't do it for me, but perhaps other readers will find treasures.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Do Yourself a Favor 16 May 2011
By NKakanis - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Charles Wright's poetry is so abstract that you are going to have to explore it yourself. Don't be wary though, because this collection of poetry is beyond worth it. Wright's language is unbelievably masterful and he uses it to construct worlds within his verse. This collection has most of his most popular works, as well as a TON of hidden gems. This makes the collection appealing to those who might have come across Wright in a college poetry course but did not dive deep into his works, or even people who have never heard of him before. Check this one out if you're into poetry! You won't be disappointed.
Profound and startling 21 Mar. 2013
By Stephen Wessells - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Charles Wright has the unusual ability to combine startling imagery with perfect, yet unobtrusive, rhythmic mastery, and he displays both these qualities in this book. It is the third in his trilogy of anthologies, and the best. It is full of those images you would never have thought of, yet when you read them, they seem inevitable and exact. I find that his poetic skill pokes my own poetic urge awake and sets it dancing. I wrote three poems this afternoon from sitting outside on a chilly spring afternoon and reading this book. Highly recommended.
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