Richard Wright Haiku

Richard Wright, of course, is best known for his books about race in the U.S.A–“Black Boy” and “Native Son.” In the last few years of his life he was an expatriate in France, and started writing haiku. It’s always fascinating when a writer skilled in one genre crosses over to another. And the transition from realistic novelist to haiku poet is an unusual trajectory.

His haiku is much loved and admired by those who know it. He, like Kerouac, was not part of any English language haiku society or scene. I find him one of the strongest voices in 20th century American haiku poetry.

I am nobody:
A red sinking autumn sun
Took my name away.

A sleepless spring night:
Yearning for what I never had
And for what never was.

Keep straight down this block,
then turn right where you will find
a peach tree blooming

A freezing morning:
I left a bit of my skin
on the broomstick

The Christmas season:
a whore is painting her lips
larger than they are

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