One of the most celebrated African American poet's work as a playwright
Jay Wright is a poet’s poet; identified by poet Dante Micheaux as one of the best American poets—because “his poetry represents everything that America is and…not what he would like it to be.” One of two, this volume of Wright’s selected plays offers readers, performers, theatre makers, and scholars an expansive look into an under-explored area of the poet’s body of work, spanning over four decades, from the early 1970’s to 2015. Those who know Wright’s poetry will find familiar rhythms and figures. New to the scene, however, is the mobilization of polysemy, quantum entanglement, and global-American identities within theatrical form. Arriving amid a pandemic, however, when the face of theatre has been forced to change in order to comport itself to new restrictions on liveness, these texts seem to challenge us to find other ways to perform, to tell stories, to grow together. Moving between Vermont, the Sandia Mountains, unnamed rivers, San Pedro, an urban square, Boca Negra, Mesa City, and numerous liminal spaces of ritual and incantation, these plays, selected by Jay and Lois Wright, showcase quotidian terrestrial affairs spliced with spiritual ascendency. Those who pick up these plays will find themselves involved in everything. In VOLUME ONE: Passage, The Hunt and Double Night of the Wood, The Playing Space, Lemma, Syntax, Aria.
Drama. African & African American Studies.
Jay Wright was born in Albuquerque, New Mexico, in 1934 and currently lives in Vermont. Wright was a professional baseball player, a member of the U.S. Army medical corps, a jazz bassist, and has been a visiting professor of literature at many universities. Active during the Black Arts Movement and the New American Poetry, his first poetry collection was published in 1967 and he has since published over fifteen books of poetry-including THIRTEEN QUINTETS FOR LOIS (2021), MUSIC'S MASK AND MEASURE (2007), The Guide Signs: Book One and Book Two (2007), Transfigurations: Collected Poems (2000), Elaine's Book (1988), The Double Invention of Komo (1980), and The Homecoming Singer (1971). He is also the author of more than forty plays and a dozen essays. A fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Wright's honors include a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Lannan Literary Award for Poetry, a MacArthur Fellowship, the Bollingen Prize for Poetry, a Joseph Compton Creative Writing Fellowship (Dundee University), the Hodder Fellowship (Princeton University), and The American Book Award from the Before Columbus Foundation.