BrickRoad Poetry Press 2016
My grandmother, who’s now ninety-eight, lived most of her life in a little town in Southwestern Ohio called Waynesville. The town has reinvented itself in the last few years as a destination for antiquers wiling to pay top-dollar for what she might call junk, but when she was there the town was the small center of a lot of small family farms, including her own. In her years there, she helped run the farm, started a dry-cleaning business, drove the school bus, served as an EMT and worked in the sheriff’s office. She was one of the folks everyone knew. On Sundays, she cooked biscuits for the prisoners in the local penitentiary. For me, growing up, she was just grandma. I didn’t realize the richness of her character until years later, with age and distance, maybe even a little wisdom.
In her latest poetry collection, Amy Wright takes this kind of realization and transforms it into powerful, moving, and often times hilarious art. She was raised in the Appalachian region of Southwest Virginia, and her poems, which she calls Cracker Sonnets (BrickRoad Poetry Press, 2016), bring this region and its characters to life. Jax Ovie, Virginia Leabus, Coralee Robins, Leda Burke, Belle Neely, and Edna Culpepper, these are just a few of the folks whose daily grinds and deep affections fill Wright’s poems. And as you can tell from these names alone, Wright portrays her people with what you’d hope from a poet: lyric delight.