Sestets

Overview

Sestets is the nineteenth book from one of the country’s most acclaimed poets, a masterpiece of formal rigor and a profound meditation on nature and mortality. It is yet another virtuosic showcase for Charles Wright’s acclaimed descriptive powers, and also an inquiry into the nature of description itself, both seductive and dangerous: “a virtual world/ Unfit for the virtuous.” Like his previous books, Sestets is seeded with the lyrics of old love songs and spirituals, and “there is always room to connect his ...

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Sestets

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Overview

Sestets is the nineteenth book from one of the country’s most acclaimed poets, a masterpiece of formal rigor and a profound meditation on nature and mortality. It is yet another virtuosic showcase for Charles Wright’s acclaimed descriptive powers, and also an inquiry into the nature of description itself, both seductive and dangerous: “a virtual world/ Unfit for the virtuous.” Like his previous books, Sestets is seeded with the lyrics of old love songs and spirituals, and “there is always room to connect his highly polished poems to the world where most of us lead mundane lives” (Miami Herald). Soaring and earthy, lyrical and direct, Charles Wright is an American treasure, and his search for a truth that transcends change and death settles finally on the beauties of nature and language: “Time is a graceless enemy, but purls as it comes and goes.”

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Praise for Littlefoot:

“If Nature is a haunted house, as Emily Dickinson told us, and Art a house that tries to be haunted, then Wright has created in Littlefoot one of the most satisfyingly possessed landscapes of his career . . . Inside his lyric, there resides a world well beyond the ordinary . . . It is the heart and soul that he delivers so eloquently.” —Thomas Curwen, The Los Angeles Times

Joel Brouwer
Wright's poems don't bear down toward conclusions, they expand and evanesce as if in a valiant, impossible effort to comprehend and demonstrate Wittgenstein's dictum that "the world is all that is the case." Wright's new collection of short poems is less a book unto itself than the next installment in a continuous poem he's been writing for 40-odd years.
—The New York Times
Publishers Weekly

Wright's gifts for single long lines, simple description and lyrical sound effects are second to none; he is the recipient of almost every American poetry award, including the Pulitzer. Even so gifted a poet, though, risks repeating himself after 18 books; the longer poems had begun to look like collections of interchangeable lines, however beautiful. If Wright was in a rut, this 19th book has found a neat way out. The 69 poems here, not unlike most of his earlier work, show vistas from the Upper South and points of view derived from Taoism, but they share a self-limiting form that is fresh for Wright: each has only six lines, plus a (sometimes quite long) title. In these sestets great yearnings and brief descriptions collide, cancel or reinforce each other: "The heart of the world lies open, leached and ticking with sunlight/ For just a minute or so," says one poem. In another, "The past is so dark, you need a flashlight to find your own shoes." Mortality is omnipresent, but so is beauty, in and around Charlottesville (where Wright teaches), in our musical heritage, in the night sky. Wright's compression tries to see that every subject, every image, receives its due. (Apr.)

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Library Journal

This 19th collection by the much-garlanded Wright (Scar Tissue) finds the poet in his familiar meditative stance, but here he imposes calibrated limits on both his universe of available influences and his stylistic range in order to ferret out "the metaphysics of the quotidian." Keeping metaphor and simile to a minimum, Wright draws his concrete imagery from the immediate, Walden-like surroundings of a country landscape ("one duck on the narrow water, pond/Stocked with clouds") with the patience and diligence of a bird-watcher, probing for signs and wonders they might suggest. What he conveys in these seemingly casual, spare, six-line poems is a sense of bittersweet impermanence, an ephemerality that underlies everything ("Like shadows, we spread ourselves until our hands touch, then disappear in the dark"). Though the work as a whole leaves an impression of existential resignation ("We lay out our own dark end"), Wright often leavens his autumnal vision with gentle, almost transparent humor. For followers of Wright's work there may be nothing new under the sun here, but that, in a way, may be his point. For larger collections.
—Fred Muratori

From the Publisher
Praise for Littlefoot:

“If Nature is a haunted house, as Emily Dickinson told us, and Art a house that tries to be haunted, then Wright has created in Littlefoot one of the most satisfyingly possessed landscapes of his career . . . Inside his lyric, there resides a world well beyond the ordinary . . . It is the heart and soul that he delivers so eloquently.” —Thomas Curwen, The Los Angeles Times

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780374261153
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
  • Publication date: 3/31/2009
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 96
  • Product dimensions: 5.77 (w) x 8.55 (h) x 0.75 (d)

Meet the Author

Charles Wright, winner of the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Critics Circle Award, the National Book Award, and the Griffin Poetry Prize, teaches at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville.

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