Night Field Anecdote

William Wright
Louisiana Literature Press, 2011

59 pages

Noted by Patricia Percival Thomas

In his 2011 collection Night Field Anecdote, poet William Wright reveals a deep connection to the land and lore of the South—and both are lush and frightening. He mesmerizes readers with a golden watch of language ticking between extinction and transcendence. Decay is as natural as breathing and Wright holds it up for inspection, even admiration, as in the following lines from the poem "Bluebird":
            Morning's windfall light flecks this chapel of bone...
            Up close the inside becomes Byzantine,
            A palm-sized vault, ribs rows of pews.

Nature can enchant, as "minnows / prodding rain-scalloped shores," or threaten, as ferns, "reversed medusas" which "outspeak the millennial sky-clatter of bird language...reach out, take." Trumpet creeper in the field today entwines with family lore—a child killed three generations ago by upsetting a cauldron of lye—the connection between them nothing more than the pell-mell scramble of life rushing toward the netherworld so fast we are already there. Ghosts are described in the present tense: "He returns as the last ember's hiss/the last frost unsheathed." Though death abounds, it doesn't seem permanent and with this book Wright is the bard of his own family, keeping their stories, fears, and quiet endurance alive with touching, lyrical flair.  

Wright is author of seven collections of poems and the series editor of The Southern Poetry Anthology, a multi-volume collection of contemporary Southern poetry. He is a contributing editor for Shenandoah and a contributing web columnist for Oxford American.

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Patricia Percival Thomas is an Atlanta poet whose work has appeared most recently in the fall 2013 issue of Sixfold.

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