Department or Program



James Wright and Stanley Plumly were both born in Belmont County in the Ohio River Valley. Wright’s home of Martins Ferry is a mill town on the river, a part of the industrial community of Wheeling, West Virginia. Plumly, on the other hand, grew up 40 miles from the river in the hills and farm country. Although Wright was born a decade before Plumly, each poet developed a distinctive and influential lyric voice, as well as a unique vision of American experience. Comparison of these two poets invites us to search for strands of an Ohioan past in their poems, and also to relate their stylistic methods. Both poets tend towards the surreal in their depiction of experience, often articulating vivid imagery in dream-like setting. The differences and affinities in their evocations of heartland experience emerge through a thorough study of these poets’ works. Examining two books from each poet, the thesis attempts to delineate and analyze connections between the poets’ methods and achievements. Wright’s “The Branch Will Not Break”(1963) and “Shall We Gather at the River”(1968), and Plumly’s “Out-of-the-Body Travel”(1977) and “Summer Celestial”(1983) are the collections that both poets produced at roughly the middle of their respective careers. Studying sequential books reveals the poets’ developing voices, and how the poetry of these books also exemplifies both poets’ initial and most concerted effort towards evoking home and grappling with past.

Level of Access

Open Access

First Advisor

Farnsworth, Robert

Date of Graduation

Spring 5-2016

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

Number of Pages


Components of Thesis

1 pdf file

Open Access

Available to all.