Volume 73, Issue 2, Spring 2021

Todd Copeland
Pages 101-115

Learning to Be a Failure
Tropes of Transformation in James Wright’s The Branch Will Not Break

Challenged by personal suffering and new influences, American poet James Wright dramatically changed the character of his poetry during the years between the respective publications of Saint Judas (1959) and The Branch Will Not Break (1963). The nature of this poetic evolution can be traced in Wright’s treatment of a few frequently employed images of transformation, specifically those involving blossoms and jewels—the energies of which are alternatingly embodied by the poet or found to be unavailable to him.