Spring 2004 • Vol. XXVI No. 2 NonfictionApril 1, 2004 |

Restructured and Restrung: Charles Wright’s “Zone Journals” and Emily Dickinson

Charles Wright's Zone Journals and Emily Dickinson   In a 1987 essay, "A.P. and E.D.," Charles Wright points to Emily Dickinson as "the only poet who, when I read her, I feel as though I understand, I know, and have heard before, somewhere, what she is trying to tell me. . . . Emily Dickinson is the only writer I've ever read who knows my name, whose work has influenced me at my heart's core, whose music is the music of the songs I've listened to and remembered in my very body (Halflife 54)."1 What I'd like to explore here is the way Wright, in his strongest book, 1988's Zone Journals, responds to what he hears in Dickinson. What he is drawn to, he continues, is the way Dickinson echoes and extends the music of his childhood, most notably the songs of A. P. Carter and the Carter family: "traditional and oddly surreal at the same time, . . . [written from] the point of view of someone watching, from inside, the world go on outside, and always aspiring to something beyond

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