A determined and idiosyncratic book of critical thoughts-and not a "poet's memoir" la Nick Flynn or Katy Lederer-Wright's latest offers criticism, speculation, and personal recollection, most of it divided into self-sufficient prose units, from one sentence to several pages in length. Though she teaches at Brown University in Rhode Island, Wright, who won a MacArthur genius grant this year, hails from the Ozarks, as both her matter and manner often remind us: "I poetry... I also arkansas," she writes; "sometimes these verbs coalesce. Sometimes they trot off in opposite directions." Though some paragraphs, many of which are culled from previously published essays, offer sharply remembered scenes, Wright (Steal Away) focuses less on the major events in her life than on the writers whose work has mattered to her, some famous (Gertrude Stein), some not (Besmilr Brigham). Readers in the know will decode information about Wright's poet-partner Forrest Gander. The longest memoiristic passage concerns an English teacher; another pokes fun at American poets' habit of joining rival schools, and another describes a car trip through the American Southeast, with its "Landscape of big dogs, big melons, big-car longings and dreams big as distant capitals." Readers who seek not autobiography but cogent thoughts, ideas, quotable claims about the state of the art (or about the state of Arkansas) will find themselves delighted. (Feb.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.