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013 Brouwer, Joel. "A World in Permanent Flux." New York Times Book Review, September 17, 2006: 26.
Charles Wright can't seem to make up his mind whether poetry should be abstract, as Wallace Stevens posited, or physical, as William Carlos Williams implied in his famous statement "No ideas but in things." In more than a dozen collections Wright has wavered from one pole to the other. His new collection, Scar Tissue, seems in some poems to take the Stevens route, prizing the imagination above all else. In other poems, however, he "mock[s] the notion that the abstract imagination could ever be preferable to the physical world's adamant particulars." Some readers will find Wright's polarities frustrating. Is he trying "to find ever more convincing ways to tell us he doesn't have anything to say"? What he says, he says in wandering lines that go on and on. Note this line: "What must be said can't be said, / It looks like; nobody has a clue, not even, it seems, the landscape." It can be argued that such lines are part of a project to praise "the world's permanent flux." A sense of continuousness is "the most distinctive aspect of Wright's poetry." In one poem he states, "The clouds may be on their way to where they are not, but they are eternally on their way." At their best, "Wright's poems form a kind of metaphysical scar tissue" between faith and doubt. He calls himself a God-fearing agnostic and struggles against faith and struggles against doubt, "not to vanquish one or the other, but to marvel at the persistence of both."
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