Before The City (Published by Lemon Shark Press, USA, 2003, pp. 101, $9.95, ISBN 0-9741067-0-4)
The publication of Honolulu poet Kirby Wright's Before The City, a collection of poems and prose poems, reveals ample power of imagination and originality. As a poetic artist, Wright is never superfluous. For example, we may take these lines to illustrate how the poet uses the exact and apt words to convey thought: "I know I will die alone", "Broken Waves recede Exposing the bones of our future", "Gardening destroys things Slowly, fakes affection, weakens roots and branches." Wright uses fewest possible words to unravel his ideas. The settings of his poems at times concentrate on urban cities, which enables the poet to provide ironic comments: "She treats wounds With fantasy and chocolate", or these lines from "Man in December":
"Is that winter cold?" he asks
Girl in the shallows.
"Cold" she nods, "cold as Alaska."
Similarly in the lines "The moon appears Apoplectic over Hollywood" and "The majority encourages progress. The majority is no longer Hawaiian", Wright is successful in comprehending paradox, irony and contrast. F. R. Leavis made a very wise comment that T. S. Eliot's poetry creates an effect of 'de-realizing of the routine common-sense world'. The same is true about Wright's poetry. The poems included in Before The City are remarkable for immortal lines: 'The sea is a canvas of tortures', 'Legs, arms hands Honeyed in sun', 'a nicotine halo circling her head', 'Horizon bleeds, spills twilight', "Light wants dark. Dark wants light.", "Her lips beg for wonder As she saws me in half, quietly". Wright's imagery of unusual power carries us into strange areas of passion: "The word is the faint Child of a pen ruled by indifference", "I am sure we are shorter than the truth", " She studies a sky too blue, Too deep to be real". Kirby Wright is a poet of exceptional power, and sublime imagination.
Kirby Wright from CA, USA teaches English Composition at the Art Institute of California and serves as an advisor at National University's Writing Center. He is a past recipient of the Anne Fields Poetry Prize, the Academy of American Poets Award and the Arts Silicon Valley Fellowship in Poetry. His beautiful short story " The Drug Club" appeared in Taj Mahal Review.