Saturday, September 16, 2017

Book Review: 'All the Bayou Stories End with Drowned' by Erica Wright

Erica Wright’s new book of poems, ALL THE BAYOU STORIES END WITH DROWNED from Black Lawrence Press captures attention immediately; the title begs investigation and the cover art by Amy Freels signals it for us. But there are few overtures that would be completely appropriate to describe the poetry inside this volume. Erica Wright seems to penetrate the dark side of people, relationships, history - the many aspects that rise like palpable ghosts out of the earth defying explanation. Yet for all the forces of nature and human behavior she visits here she seems to have the strength of a Wonder Woman, so secure is her handling of the material at hand. While peering into the twisted aspects of America she uncovers pathways for confronting the hoary beasts and bringing them under control. Some examples will encourage the reader to enter the world of Erica Wright:

Paralysis and Football Américain

When I say I’m not agoraphobic,
I don’t deny mornings curled

on the floor, refusing to uncoil
so the outer reaches of my limbs

won’t get taken. I confess there is
evidence, but at the same time,

across the country, boys suit up
In plastic meant to keep them

from harm while they hurl
themselves into harm, repeatedly.

Death, I will chase you in stadiums.
I will be ready when you turn

on me with your rows of eyes.
For once, my arms will swing

when I tell them to, and their ends
will be all manner of weapon.


When lined up by guilt, the first boy slipped
His knife to another who must have known,
And this wan the beginning of conspiracy. All of us waited
For the reeds of retribution: “Pick out your own switch.”
Every con, every fallen branch, we weighed until we came up
Empty and aching for redemption. We thirsted at the entryway
Where we were met y the chlorine scent of modern baptism.

Erica Wright takes s into thoughts and concepts that are at once frightening and real and allows us to see differently through her adroit manipulation of words, of poems. She is a major force in American poetry. Grady Harp, September 17

I received a free copy of this book and volunteered to review it.

Editor's note: This review has been published with the permission of Grady Harp. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right.

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