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This interview is taken from PN Review 135, Volume 27 Number 1, September - October 2000.

in conversation with Charles Wright Martin Caseley

Charles Wright is one of the most important American poets currently writing, and the award of the Pulitzer Prize in 1998 for Black Zodiac confirmed this. His work, however, is not well-known in this country. This situation may be about to change with the forthcoming publication by Stride of Negative Blue, which contains the trilogy Chickamauga (1995), Black Zodiac (1997) and Appalachia (1998) alongside some newer poems.

The volumes
Halflife and Quarter Notes referred to in the text are Wright's collections of prose works, critical musings and interviews, published by the University of Michigan Press in 1988 and 1995 respectively. This interview took place by post between November 1999 and March this year.

MARTIN CASELEY: 'Emily Dickinson had a stationary psyche...Whitman's is ambulatory' (Halflife, p. 22) - where would you place yourself on this axis?

CHARLES WRIGHT: That's a bit more difficult to say now than it was when I wrote the comment some twenty years ago. The comment in the old days was that I wanted to be E.D. on Whitman's road, i.e., to have a kind of restrained and structured compression within a larger, more expansive frame. I often used the image of the spider's web - an endlessly (theoretically, at least) expandable structure composed of small, interconnected, inter-webbed and discreet parts. Today, I'm not so sure I want to be on that road at all. I guess I'd like my expansiveness to resonate within a more cloistered area. ...


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