Wright casts a familiar linguistic spell with her thinking-aloud genre-bending voice here: a signature elliptical 'prosimetric' style. Yet her book serves a practical purpose too, as an approximation of a field guide (or eccentric 'field homage') to beeches and their world. Casting Deep Shade is less a conventional text than a facsimile of a tree’s growth outward—a cumulative chronology in rings of thought ... Tender too is the author’s imagination ... Wright’s fragments...remain cryptic yet illuminating in the manner of nature itself, sharing secrets only with those who 'read the leaves' closely.
Through poems that verge into prose or otherwise defy formal categorization, Wright traces the trees’ locations from the Ozarks up through Cairo, Illinois and into Rhode Island ... Her poems zoom in closely, remarking upon the beeches’ tiniest parts...before panning back out to review their grandest roles in American history...Intertwined are poems steeped in personal memory ...Throughout this beautifully bound book are photographs by Denny Moers ... The juxtaposition of the two art forms undergirds the lyricism of the photos while highlighting the rooted-in-truth quality of the poems. Fiction and nonfiction blend in other exciting ways ... [a] list-poem presents an almost overwhelming picture of what we could lose in the face of climate change.
...the book begins as a loving naturalist’s ode to the beech tree and branches out to touch a dizzying array of international, transhistorical topics, not least among them what it means to be alive. Fans of Wright will find what they’re looking for in this collection ... But the writing itself sometimes feels unfinished, lacking some of the sharpness that made Wright such an astute observer of other lives and of our world. The result is a kind of traveler’s diary—with all the imperfection that term affords—one anchored by a deep, abiding respect for what Wright termed 'beech-consciousness.'