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Transfigurations

Collected Poems

by Jay Wright

368 pages / 6.00 x 9.00 inches / no illustrations

Poetry

  Hardcover / 9780807126295 / November 2000
  Paperback / 9780807126301 / November 2000

Few poets have as much to tell us about the intricate relationship between the African American past and present as Jay Wright. His poems weave a rich fabric of personal history using diverse materials drawn from African, Native American, and European sources. Scholarly, historical, intuitive, and emotional, his work explores territories in which rituals of psychological and spiritual individuation find a new synthesis in the construction of cultural values. Never an ideologue but always a poet of vision, his imagination shows us a way to rejoice and strengthen ourselves in our common humanity.

Here, together for the first time, are Wright’s previously published collections—The Homecoming Singer(1971), Soothsayers and Omens (1976), Explications/Interpretations (1984), Dimensions of History(1976), The Double Invention of Komo (1980), Elaine’s Book (1988), and Boleros (1991)—along with the new poems of Transformations (1997). By presenting Wright’s work as a whole, this collection reveals the powerful consistency of his theme—a spiritual or intellectual quest for personal development—as each book builds solidly upon the previous one.

Wright examines history from a multicultural perspective, attempting to conquer a sense of exclusion—from society and his own cultural identity —and find solace and accord by linking American society to African traditions. He believes that a poem must articulate the vital rhythms of the culture it depicts and is dedicated to a pursuit of poetic forms that embody the cadence of African American culture.

Poet and playwright Jay Wright has received numerous awards, including a 2000 Lannan Literary Award for Poetry, a Guggenheim Fellowship, the 2005 Bollingen Prize for American Poetry, and the 62nd Fellowship of the Academy of American Poets. A MacArthur Fellow and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Wright lives in Vermont.

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