PUBLISHER:
  Furious Flower
  Poetry Center
  MSC 3802
  Harrisonburg, VA 22807
  PHONE: (540) 568-8883
  FAX: (540) 568-8888

  FOR INFORMATION   CONTACT:
  Natalia Bradshaw-Parson
  bradshnr@jmu.edu

 

Richard Wright is best known for his fiction, although he published several poems between 1933 and 1938. Wright suffered from amoebic dysentery during the last two years of his life (1959-1960) and turned to writing haiku. During his lifetime he wrote more than 4,000 haiku; 817 of which are collected in Haiku: This Other World.

Selected Poems:

"Rest for the Weary"
"A Red Love Note"
"Everywhere Burning Waters Rise"
"Rise and Love"
"I Have Seen Black Hands"
"Red Clay Blues”
"Red Leaves of Red Books"
"I Am a Red Slogan"
"Between the World and Me"
"Transcontinental"

Selected Biographical Information

Fabre, Michel. The Unfinished Quest of Richard Wright. New York: Morrow. 1973.

Gayle, Addison. Richard Wright: Ordeal of a Native Son. Garden City: Anchor Press. 1980.
Libraries Worldwide: 1224

Walker, Margaret. Richard Wright, Daemonic Genius: A Portrait of the Man, A Critical Look at His Work. New York: Warner. 1988.
Libraries Worldwide: 1153 Book   

Kinnamon, Keneth. The emergence of Richard Wright: A Study in Literature and Society. Urbana: University of Illinois Press. 1972.
Webb, Constance. Richard Wright: A Biography. New York: Putnam. 1968.

Bone, Robert. Richard Wright. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. 1969.

Selected Haiku

I am nobody:
A red sinking autumn sun
Took my name away.

The crow flew so fast
That he left his lonely caw
Behind in the fields.

One autumn evening
A stranger enters a village
And passes on through.

This autumn evening
Is full of an empty sky
And one empty road.

In the falling snow
A laughing boy holds out his palms
Until they are white.

The scarecrow's old hat
Was flung by the winter wind
Into a graveyard.

Standing patiently,
The horse grants the snowflakes
A home on his back.

Just enough of snow
To make you look carefully
At familiar streets.

Shut in the ice box,
A cricket chirps sleepily
In an alien winter.

Spring begins shyly
With one hairpin of green grass
In a flower pot.

An apple blossom
Trembling on a sunlit branch
From the weight of bees.

A balmy spring wind
Reminding me of something
I cannot recall.

Why did this spring wood
Grow so silent when I came?
What was happening?

A sleepless spring night:
Yearning for what I never had
And for what never was.

The day is so long
That even noisy sparrows
Fall strangely silent.

That sparrow bent dawn,
Its head tucked beneath its wing, –
Sewing a button?

The sudden thunder
Startles the magnolias
To a deeper white.

Tossing all day long,
The cold sea now sleeps deeply
On a bed of stars.

A tolling church bell:
A rat rears in the moonlight
And stares at the steeple.

A bloody knife blade
Is being licked by a cat
At hog-killing time.

Crying and crying,
Melodious strings of geese
Passing a graveyard.

A nude fat woman
Stands over a kitchen stove,
Tasting applesauce.

Amid the daisies
Even the idiot boy
Has a dignity.

The green cockleburs
Caught in the thick wooly hair
Of the black boy's head.

An Indian summer
heaps itself in tons of gold
over Nigger Town.

Amidst the flowers
A China clock is ticking
In the dead man's room.

In this tiny pond
The great big lake in which
I swam as a boy?

A valley village
Lies in the grip of moonlight:
How lonely it is.

In a damp attic,
Spilling out grains of sawdust,
A wounded rag doll.

The Christmas season:
A whore is painting her lips
Larger than they are.

Burning out its time,
And timing its own burning,
One lonely candle.

Richard Wright
Selected Writings

Uncle Tom's Children: Four Novellas. Harper, 1938.

Native Son. Harper, 1940.

Twelve Million Black Voices: A Folk History of the Negro in the U.S. Viking, 1941.

Black Boy: A Record of Childhood and Youth. Harper, 1945.

The Outsider. Harper, 1953.

Savage Holiday. Avon, 1954.

Black Power: A Record of Reactions in a Land of Pathos. Harper, 1954.

White Man, Listen! Doubleday, 1957.

The Long Dream. Doubleday, 1958.

Eight Men. World, 1961.

Lawd Today. Avon, 1963.

The Man Who Lived Underground.  Aubier-Flammarion, 1971.

American Hunger. Harper, 1977.

Rite of Passage. HarperCollins, 1994.

Haiku: This Other World. Arcade, 1998.

Richard Wright
Poetry Criticism

Hakutani, Yoshinobu.  Cross-Cultural Visions in African American Modernism: From Spatial Narrative to Jazz Haiku. Columbus, OH: Ohio State UP, 2006.

Hakutani, Yoshinobu. “Richard Wright's Haiku, Zen, and the African 'Primal Outlook Upon Life.” Modern Philology: Critical and Historical Studies in Literature, Medieval Through Contemporary. 104:4 (2007 May), pp. 510-28.

Iadonisi, Richard.  “I Am Nobody: The Haiku of Richard Wright.” MELUS: The Journal of the Society for the Study of the Multi-Ethnic Literature of the United States. 30:3 (2005 Fall), pp. 179-200.

Kinnamon, Keneth. “Wright: Proletarian Poet.” Concerning Poetry. 2:1 (1969), pp. 39-50.

Kodama, Sanehide. “Influence on Richard Wright in His Last Years: English Haiku as a New Genre.” Tamkang Review: A Quarterly of Comparative Studies Between Chinese and Foreign Literatures. 15:1-4 (1984 Autumn-1985 Summer), pp. 63-73.

Ogburn, Floyd, Jr. “Richard Wright's Unpublished Haiku: A World Elsewhere.” MELUS, 23:3 (1998 Fall), pp. 57-81.
 
Tener, Robert. “The Where, the When, the What: A Study of Richard Wright's Haiku.” pp. 273-298.. Hakutani, Yoshinobu (ed.). Critical Essays on Richard Wright. Boston: Hall, 1982.

Tener, Robert L. “Union with Nature: Richard Wright and the Art of Haiku.” Chiba Review. 10 (1988), pp. 19-34.

Zheng, Jianquing. “The South in Richard Wright's Haiku.” Notes on Contemporary Literature, 37:2 (2007 March), pp. 6-9.