The Guide Signs - Cover
Goodreads Icon

The Guide Signs

Book One and Book Two

128 pages / 6.00 x 9.00 inches / None


  Hardcover / 9780807132647 / October 2007
  Paperback / 9780807132654 / October 2007

"The Guide Signs continues Wright's epic of spiritual ascent, his skeptic's quest for communion with spirits, for the whisper that modernity has never forgotten, that tells us there is a higher, a greater, a perhaps undying, life." — Bookforum

In The Guide Signs, acclaimed poet Jay Wright closes a movement he opened with his first book, The Homecoming Singer, in 1971, a movement that takes its design from the ancient people of Mali. Wright continued this theme in subsequent works, gathered in Transfigurations: Collected Poems (2000), whose eight books represent the eight master signs. The two new books of The Guide Signs represent the primordial Nommo twins. All together, these ten books, as the ten earlier signs taken from the "complete signs of the world," provide the base for the soul and life force given to everything. Wright encourages the reader to participate in weaving the fragile and fragmentary fabric of experience, and to do what Horace Silver encourages his listeners to do—"get down in the music with us."

And I will tell you
how I came rambling out of the snowy juniper
to arrive in a legacy of farolitos,
and the Dominican insistence on a proper
Three voices arise
, but perhaps only one will hisse, or chirpe,
whisper in the voyce of the Spirit,
and perhaps only one will know the Quire of Saints,
or enter the holy roome.
I will turn again
to that interruption that seeds me
in the sands of betrayal along the Niger,
and speak of the difficult birth of a mind
that measures its own transfiguration.
This will be the moment of letting go.

From "The Guide Signs: Book Two" published in The Guide Signs by Jay Wright.
Copyright © 2007 by Jay Wright. All rights reserved.

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.

Found an Error? Tell us about it.