Signal Editions | 2017 | 88 Page | $17.95 | Purchase online
It might be a stretch to call Wright’s poetry anti-Whitman because it seems both poets are driven by the urge to connect the body with the external world to show the ways in which the external and internal of undivided. However, while Whitman celebrates the body as intermediary between external and internal, Wright problematizes this connection. In Table Manners the body is one with the world but the world makes the body sick. These are not celebratory poems, they are irritable bowel poems wherein the body is capable, adherent to natural law, but reluctantly adherent and always in pain. This is at its most elevated point in the collection in the poem “Origin Story” where mandatory ingestion predicates an obligatory renunciation of the self: “women resigned themselves, just waited for it to end, floating above their bodies.” The point is reinforced in “Instinct” where bodies fight the desire to eat other bodies (“just a few clean snips to guarantee I won’t be tempted to devour my young”). Both these poems are devastating and masterful, they are the two best of the collection.