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A genre-bending collection of prose poems from Pulitzer Prize–winner Franz Wright brings us surreal tales of childhood, adolescence, and adult awareness, moving from the gorgeous to the shocking to a sense of peace. Wright’s most intimate thoughts and images appear before us in dramatic and spectral short narratives: mesmerizing poems whose colloquial sound and rhythms announce a new path for this luminous and masterful poet.

In these journeys, we hear the constant murmured “yes” of creation—“it will be packing its small suitcase soon; it will leave the keys dangling from the lock and set out at last,” Wright tells us. He introduces us to the powerful presences in his world (the haiku master Basho, Nietzsche, St. Teresa of Avila, and especially his father, James Wright) as he explores the continually unfolding loss of childhood and the mixed blessings that follow it. Taken together, the pieces deliver the diary of a poet—“a fairly good egg in hot water,” as he describes himself—who seeks to narrate his way through the dark wood of his title, following the crumbs of language. “Take everything,” Wright suggests, “you can have it all back, but leave for a little the words, of all you gave the most mysteriously lasting.” With a strong presence of the dramatic in every line, Kindertotenwald pulls us deep into this journey, where we too are lost and then found again with him.

From Publishers Weekly

Sep 19, 2011 – Wright has written frequently of his father, the poet James Wright (1927-1980). His 12th book, all in prose, takes its title from Mahler’s Kindertotenlieder, and has its English equivalent in something like “Dead Children’s Wood.” It imagines a son’s life as a kind of living death, one that, as its end nears, has become a forbidding forest of memories where people, places and eras blur together, united by the ’poet’s loneliness and abjection, and, savingly, by the kind of humor that permits endurance: “Sooner or later, like most everyone, I will get down on my hands and knees baa-ing obligingly, offer my throat to the knife, and move on.” In the meantime, the poet fuses Neitzsche’s final moments of sanity; “Husserl’s suspension of belief strategy”; bouts of vomiting before watching CNN; fantasies of a “child psychiatrist” (who “will not be seeing any patients this evening… until she has finished her homework”); dilations upon religious figures, Basho, Kierke-gaard; and walks “On My Father’s Farm in New York City” into a kind of continuous diaristic fairy tale. The result is a set of sad and engaging “I do this, I do that” poems spanning a lifetime spent in search of something, and someone, lost: “I look up, and still you are still nowhere to be seen, still unfound.”
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  • $12.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Poetry
  • Published: Sep 06, 2011
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Seller: Penguin Random House LLC
  • Print Length: 128 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: To view this book, you must have an iOS device with iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

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