The phrase “Our girl as nowhere as she can be” becomes the radial of Erica Wright’s poem presented here, which was written in memory of the incandescent Lucie Brock-Broido. Operating in the elegiac tradition, Wright is a conveyer of insight and surprise. Her staircase couplets allow for the unexpected to be around each bend of her line breaks, reverberating her title “The Unknown City.”
Part of the poem’s rhetorical ladder, besides unpredictability, is the balance between the vividness of “copper gleam” and the nebulous quality of “dreams”: it moves as a duet between the bright orange that winds its way through her unfurlings (“pennies,” “stars,” “hairpins,” “bricks,” “amber,” and “tabby”), and the idea of evaporation (an imaginary city, “loss,” “weightlessness,” “cumulus,” “dreams,” “vanishes,” “nobody,” and “nowhere”). Underscored with fairytale gestures, and an apostrophic “Come, wind,” there is a melancholic beauty that imbues Wright’s exquisite poem even though it’s ultimately about loss and disillusionment because, as she notes, “Mostly dreams are long cons, but this one has legs.”
The architectural finesse and emotional enchantment of Wright’s work is also on display in her book All the Bayou Stories End with Drowned (Black Lawrence Press, June 2017) where it’s easy to agree with Gregory Pardlo’s assessment that “We read them with feline attention, hungering after each line’s fugitive beauty.” And, if you happen to be hankering for a crime novel instead of poetry, Wright also writes the P.I. Kat Stone series, her most recent being The Blue Kingfisher (Polis Books, October 2018).