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RETHINKING JAMES WRIGHT

Craig McDaniel

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This work features an invented experimental visual alphabet to add new meaning to the final 2 lines of  James Wright's poem The Jewel: "WHEN I STAND UPRIGHT IN THE WIND,/ MY BONES TURN TO DARK EMERALDS." The poem's themes of mortality and transcendent beauty are accentuated in many ways: several letters in the new alphabet incorporate self-portrait drawings by university art students  that partially expose the bones behind their faces. The students were excited to collaborate with me in creating this alphabet. The original drawings in color were changed so that the artwork's color scheme is more simplified and luminous.  The letter 'p' is encoded as a picture of a "Pistol". If you look closely, you may recognize the 'P' is an iconic image from American political history of the early 1960s (the period in which Wright's poem was composed – in 1962). The entire alphabet runs along the bottom of the artwork.