Dennis Wright’s poetry collection, Donna My Reason, offers works largely written about or inspired by the author’s wife, Donna.
In his introduction, Wright explains his conceit: “This book that you hold in your hand is a tribute to one of creations [sic] finest masterpieces; [sic] my wife, my life, my Donna.”
The collection offers nearly 200 lineated, free-verse and rhyming poems—and one anomalous prose essay (“Mobile Home Park”). It employs a recognizable abecedarian structure, with poem titles arranged alphabetically (except for the first poem, “9 Kids”). While it’s a key literary convention to disregard articles like “a,” “an,” and “the” when alphabetizing titles, Wright uses these articles in his alphabetization.
The speaker’s ethos is ardent and sincere, but unfortunately, the poems rely heavily on telling rather than showing, thus lacking memorable images. For example, in “Marrying Your Best Friend,” the speaker recounts: “Now you my friend have tied the knot/ The things we learned have taken awhile/ You need to know the things we were taught/ Were given by God just to keep her smile.” The broad statements do little to engage readers. The rhymes also feel familiar and predictable (“knot”/“taught,” “awhile”/”smile”) rather than innovative and surprising.
Some poems foreground the speaker’s Christian faith, as in “Removing the Hedge,” which also illustrates Wright’s approach to free-verse poem-making. It begins, “I love you Jesus, I will never leave you/ Nor forsake you” and proceeds to the litany “I am lost/ I am afraid/ I can’t see you/ Where did you go?” Once again, the speaker appears sincere, but the diction is neither fresh nor innovative. The poems rely on simple statements and questions and lack the sensory details or specificity that would help them connect with readers.
Donna My Reason lacks the artistry contemporary poetry readers expect. Nonetheless, it’s likely to be appreciated by the poet’s friends and family, particularly his wife Donna, and by some habitual readers of light, self-help and religious verse.
Also available as an ebook.