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James Wright: Criticism and Reviews

Modern American Poetry features links to criticism of Wright's works.

Teacher's Guide to James Wright provides a brief overview of Wright's style and the major themes in his poetry.

The Heath Anthology of American Literature has a critical overview of Wright's work, with links to additional information on the poet.

"Loaded Contradictions, James Wright's Poetic Technique" is a critical review written by Raina Von Waldenburg.

"Reading Poetry, Wasting Time" is a review from Stride Magazine by William Slaughter of Wright's poetry.

Online Poetry Classroom has links to reviews of Wright's work.

Additional criticism and review of James Wright's works can be found at your local public library.

The following reviews can be accessed online only by an individual who has a current library card through this address.

"James Wright: Overview."
Critic: Jonathan Barker.
Reference Guide to American Literature, 3rd ed., edited by Jim Kamp, St. James Press, 1994.

"James Wright's poems are notable for their range of intense emotions and for the way both form and theme develop in the work. Wright's early style was characteristic of the 1950s in its…"

"The Poetry of James Wright."
Critic: Cor van den Heuval.

MOSAIC: A Journal for the Study of Literature and Ideas, Volume VII, No. 3, Spring, 1974, pp. 163-70. In the excerpt of the review, "van den Heuval examines classical elements in Wright's poetry."

"'Lying in a Hammock at William Duffy's Farm in Pine Island, Minnesota.'"
Critic: R.J. Spendal.
Explicator, May, 1976.

In the excerpt of the review, "Spendal takes a close look at some of Wright's major images in 'Lying in a Hammock at William Duffy's Farm in Pine Island, Minnesota.'"

"Overview of 'Autumn Begins in Martins Ferry, Ohio.'"
Critic: David Caplan.
Poetry for Students, Vol. 8, The Gale Group, 2000.

"Grammarians should love James Wright's poem, 'Autumn Begins in Martins Ferry, Ohio.' As many grammar textbooks lament, casual writers rarely…"

"The Poetry of James Wright: A First Collection."
Critic: J.E. Palmer.
James Wright: The Heart of the Light, edited by Peter Stitt and Frank Graziano, The University of Michigan Press, 1990, pp. 26-33.

In this essay, "first published in 1957, Palmer reviews Wright's first collection of poetry and characterizes him as a 'mature and accomplished poet.'"

"From 'The Anguish of the Spirit and the Letter.'"
Critic: Anthony Hecht.
The Hudson Review, Vol. XII, No. 4, Winter, 1959-60, pp. 46-48.

In this essay, "Hecht praises Wright for his success at integrating 'event and commentary' in 'a poetry of wisdom.'"

"From 'Between New Voice and Old Master.'"
Critic: Daniel G. Hoffman.
The Sewanee Review, Vol. LXVIII, No. 4, October-December, 1960, pp. 43-45.

In this essay, Hoffman finds in Wright's attention to defeated people in his poetry the answer to the poet's questions: 'What is good and humane action, and why perform it?'"

"The Continuity of James Wright's Poems."
Critic: William Matthews.
The Ohio Review, Vol. XVIII, No. 2, Spring-Summer, 1977, pp. 44-57.

In his essay, "Matthews argues against the accepted critical judgment that Wright's early, metrically formal poetry is more skillful than his later free verse."

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