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The Philosopher’s Corner: A Brief Review of Richard Wright’s “Haiku”

In the introduction of the 2012 publication of Richard Wright’s posthumous book, Haiku: The Last Poetry of Richard Wright (Arcade Publishing), Wright’s daughter, Julia, referred to the following as his literary enigma: “how the creator of the inarticulate, frightened, and enraged Bigger Thomas ended up leaving us some of the most tender, unassuming, and gentle lines in African-American poetry.” Wright left some four thousand haiku (only a few hundred published), and the question has been left unanswered: what, if any, is the relationship between his haiku poems and his social/political prose and non-fiction?

I have always been drawn to Wright’s interest in nature, in the mysteries of nature, and how this interest influenced and informed the social and political (perhaps protest) work for which he has become strictly known and infamous. What if we rethought the relation of politics to nature, “realism” to “surrealism” such that these haiku are no longer understood as a side-interest, or the ramblings of a sick man at the end of his life, but as evocative of the meaning of human existence, black existence?

Link to purchase:

http://www.amazon.com/Haiku-Last-Poems-American-Icon/dp/1611453496/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1382584170&sr=8-1&keywords=richard+wright+haiku

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