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This article is taken from PN Review 14, Volume 6 Number 6, July - August 1980.

Patrick Swift

Cultural institutions tend to promote mediocrity. It may even be that this is their true function. They do however perform, incidentally, another function, and that is to provide a context in which the real poet stands out like a sore thumb.

It was in such a context-for I consider a review of Art and Letters a circumstance of instituted culture, whether that be its aim or not-that I got to know David Wright very well. We had met many years earlier in the Bohemian jungle of Soho where practitioners of Arts and Letters were thick on the ground, though not I must add professors of those activities, and we have had some further adventures together since. But it was then that the luminous nature of his presence was revealed to me.

It is not necessary to have read the work of David Wright to know on meeting him that you are meeting a poet. Nor has this sensation anything to do with the great head of prematurely white (as it was then) hair recalling, almost ridiculously, certain portraits of Yeats. Though this in itself does nothing to diminish the impression, it is the space he occupies that at once communicates the feeling of gentleness and power. I believe the secret lies in that the activity for him is a vocation.

He suffers it. But what I wish to speak of goes beyond this. There is a reality which cuts across the critical garbage ...


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