Books by Mississippi Writers 1996-2010



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By Richard Wright, edited by Yoshinobu Hakatuni and Robert L. Tener Arcade (Hardcover, $23.50, ISBN: 1559704454, 9/1998) Historian John Henrik Clarke once described Wright as "writing with a sledgehammer," and the powerful early works Native Son (1940) and Black Boy (1945) bear that out. But in the last creations of his life, he wrote as if with a gentle quill pen. During his final illness in France in 1960, Wright happened upon an English translation of Japanese haiku. Fascinated by the form, he began writing in it himself, producing over 4000 poems. Before his death, he selected 810 for publication, and now nearly 40 years later they are newly in print. Wright adheres strictly to the formal structure (three lines, five-seven-five syllables per line) and to the notion that the season of the year must be stated or implied. The poems are simple, Zenlike treasures: As my delegate The spring wind has its fingers In a young girl's hair. For seven seconds The steam from the train whistle Blew out the spring moon. The collection has a melancholy air, perhaps a reflection of Wright's failing health and expatriate status. Highly recommended. ―Judy Clarence

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