Selected Poems, 1968–1998

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Selected Poems, 1968–1998, represents thirty years of John Wood’s work, offering his readers a most comprehensive view of an unusual mind and spirit that is at once eloquent and humorous. In poems that range from narratives, lyrics, and elegies, to odes, satires, and even a mini-epic, his work whips language into intense emotion. Recalled memories tumble with sense and grace. The homely and the visionary intertwine as the often stark realities of human experience are infused with love and light. The prospering genius of these poems is that they seek not so much to redeem or reclaim what is lost, but to redirect perspectives with a generous sweep of possibilities. Wood’s craft as a wordsmith gives us a voice that powerfully interprets what it means to be human and alive.


John Wood holds professorships in both photographic history and English literature at McNeese State University in Lake Charles, Louisiana, where he is also director of the Master of Fine Arts Program in Creative Writing. He is the author of three previous books of poetry and seven books of art and photographic criticism. His books have won the Iowa Poetry Prize twice, the American Library Association’s Choice Outstanding Academic Books of 1992, and the New York Times Book Review Best Photo Books of 1995.

“Here are the best works—so far—of a gifted, mature poet who, by geography, subject matter, tone, vision, and themes comes out of the South’s great literary tradition. Like Ransom, Warren, O’Connor, and Faulkner, Wood insists that the human condition is ironic, that we are fated to live stretched between the bow-ends of the real and the ideal, the earthly and the heavenly, the temporal and the eternal. This is a powerful, richly-textured book.”

—William Trowbridge


“The most lucid and engaging of the postmodern southern poets is John Wood. . . . [He] begins in a uniquely American charnel house and ends in Tuscany with the angels of Filippo Lippi and Fra Angelico.”

The Southern Review


“John Wood’s imagination, with one foot on the ground and one dipped in the River Jordan, brings unforgettably to life the homely and visionary mind that has yearned for spiritual utopia in the New World. . . . Wood’s rhapsodic free verse rises in lyrical, prophetic periods where the visionary harmonizes with the homely and the erotic.”

The Hudson Review