John Wood


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The Bitter Part of Heaven -- The Perils of Beauty -- The Comeback of Yma Sumac -- Cancer Talkers -- Upon Reading in the Newspaper That a Man in Kentucky Had Cut Off His Hand and His Foot with Pocketknives and Then Gouged Out an Eye in Order That He Might Go to Heaven -- On a Photograph I Found of Two Young Factory Workers Standing beside a Piece of Heavy Machinery and Inscribed on the Reverse "Sacred to the Memory of Friendship" -- The Correct Answers -- The Canticle of End-Times -- The Kali Yuga -- The Wastes of Resurrection -- Opie and the Apples -- Jam -- How I Tried to Explain the Certainties of Faith and Petrunkevitch's Famous Essay on the Wasp and the Tarantula to a Pentecostal Student Worried about My Soul -- About Their Father's Business -- Expulsions -- Baptisms -- Conversions -- Theological Meditation -- Silage -- Shitheads -- Reflections on the Progress of the Western Intellectual Tradition from Thales to Crick and Watson -- Hunting for a New Chairman; Thinking about Giotto -- Locomotion and Starlight -- Dreams of Standing -- The Myths of Meanness -- Bees -- Remembering My Father Riding -- Elegiac Stanza on a Photograph of Ethel Rosenberg in Her Kitchen -- Elegy -- Elegy in September -- Elegiac Ode -- Babies on the Beach -- Flowers for Robert Mapplethorpe -- The Mysteries: Elegy at Century's Close -- For a Friend Whose Son Committed Suicide -- Thinking of Maria Theresa Broussard, a Pregnant Girl in My Freshman Class My First Semester in Louisiana -- Seeing a Girl Who Looked like a Well-Known Child Actress Walking toward San Tome, the Church in Toledo Where El Greco's Burial of the Count of Orgaz Hangs -- Here In Louisiana -- The Surrounding Grace -- A Crown of Promise -- In Primary Light -- Self-portrait after Stanley Spencer


John Wood is well known for his brilliant writing on the history of photography, but for many years he has also centered on his work as a poet, publishing in some of the very best magazines and gaining the deep admiration of many writers and poets. This book is testimony of his devotion to his craft - a fully realized, mature, and carefully constructed collection.

Series Title

Iowa poetry prize

Award Date


Publication Date



University of Iowa Press


Iowa City

Total Pages


ISBN of Print Version



American poetry


Copyright 1994 John Wood

In primary light: poems