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James Wright: A Life in Poetry
by Jonathan Blunk
512 pages
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Release Date: October 17, 2017

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Casual fans of literature will perhaps not recognize the name of American poet James Wright. He first appeared in print in the mid-1950s with a collection of poems titled “The Green Wall” which was awarded the Yale Younger Poets Prize.

Wright is far better known for his later publication “The Branch Will Not Break” – but it was his 1972 “Collected Poems” which earned him a Pulitzer Prize. Wright died in 1980 and now, nearly four decades later, he is memorialized in this authorized biography which has been recently published to critical acclaim.

Third-party reviews and links:

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From the publisher:

The authorized and sweeping biography of one of America’s most complex, influential, and enduring poets

In the extraordinary generation of American poets who came of age in the middle of the twentieth century, James Wright (1927–1980) was frequently placed at the top of the list. With a fierce, single-minded devotion to his work, Wright escaped the steel town of his Depression-era childhood in the Ohio valley to become a revered professor of English literature and a Pulitzer Prize winner. But his hometown remained at the heart of his work, and he courted a rough, enduring muse from his vivid memories of the Midwest. A full-throated lyricism and classical poise became his tools, honesty and unwavering compassion his trademark.

Using meticulous research, hundreds of interviews, and Wright’s public readings, Jonathan Blunk’s authorized biography explores the poet’s life and work with exceptional candor, making full use of Wright’s extensive unpublished work—letters, poems, translations, and personal journals. Focusing on the tensions that forced Wright’s poetic breakthroughs and the relationships that plunged him to emotional depths, Blunk provides a spirited portrait, and a fascinating depiction of this turbulent period in American letters.

A gifted translator and mesmerizing reader, Wright appears throughout in all his complex and eloquent urgency. Discerning yet expansive, James Wright will change the way the poet’s work is understood and inspire a new appreciation for his enduring achievement.”