Results of the Pulitzer Prize in the year 1998.
Black Zodiac offers poems suffused with spiritual longing—lyrical meditations on faith, religion, heritage, and morality. The poems also explore aging and mortality with restless grace. Approaching his vast subjects by way of small moments, Wright magnifies details to reveal truths much larger than the quotidian happenings that engendered them. His is an astonishing, flexible, domestic-yet-universal verse. As the critic Helen Vendler has observed, Wright is a poet who “sounds like nobody else.”
I hate and—love. The sleepless body hammering a nail nails itself, hanging crucified.—from “Catullus: Excrucior”
In Frank Bidart’s collection of poems, the encounter with desire is the encounter with destiny. The first half contains some of Bidart’s most luminous and intimate work-poems about the art of writing, Eros, and the desolations and mirror of history (in a spectacular narrative based on Tacitus). The second half of the book exts the overt lyricism of the opening section into even more ambitious territory-”The Second Hour of the Night” may be Bidart’s most profound and complex meditation on the illusion of will, his most seductive dramatic poem to date.
The Vigil, which first appeared in 1997, finds contemporary American master-poet C. K. Williams taking a more reflective and empathetic turn in his work. As Jonathan Aaron wrote in The Boston Globe: “A matchless explorer of the burdens of consciousness, Williams has always written brilliantly about human pain, that which we inflict upon others and upon ourselves, and that which we experience in dreading what we’re fated for.
In The Vigil Williams affirms the uncanny resiliency of love as solace for pain—what he calls “these invisible links that allure, these transfigurations even of anguish that hold us” (“The Neighbor”). It is a mystery he has probed before, but never with quite such sympathy and candor.”