Aaron Schneid Appalachian Literature Dec. 4, 2013 James Wright’s poetry and the Ohio Valley James Wright’s poetry about the Ohio Valley is a unique setting for literature dealing with Appalachia. While the general thought of Appalachian literature takes place in the mountains with a laid back rural lifestyle with coal being the dominant industry. The Ohio Valley is not a large metropolitan area but it is a more suburban area of Pittsburgh compared to other parts of Appalachia, and the economy in the ime that Wright writes about is powered by large steel mills and manufacturing plants not Just coal.
Although James Wright writes extremely negative poems about Eastern Ohio there are good qualities of this area during that time period in his writings. Most of Wright’s poems deal with the dead end nature of opportunity that men growing up in the Valley faced then of going straight to the mill after high school and the negative culture of alcoholism that seemingly went along with living here. Despite he heavy negativity that Wright throw onto the Ohio Valley most people here including my family see this time period as the glory days of this area and have a longing for these days to come back.
Since both of my parents families came to America from Germany and Poland they have always lived here on both sides of the Ohio River and worked in the mills, the plants, and on the railroad. Up until me no male in my family has gone straight to college without working in plant first and whereas Wright would see this a negative injustice that the Valley gave to these eople I would argue that it was a great thing for the people living here. The opportunity that some had growing up here to get one of these Jobs in mill or glass factory was good for this area.
Though the Jobs where hard work they were all very good paying Jobs that someone could support a great life at home for a family. Plus they were all union protected Jobs and my grandfather was actually a union representative for the local IJSW for a while. At nearly every holiday or family gathering my uncles and Dad will tell stories of he old days of having a good 40-hour a week Job and then going to the corner bar or tavern after their shifts with not much to worry about.
Where Wright sees these Jobs and lifestyle as a heavy burden of back breaking work and drunkenness all of the people in my life that worked those Jobs all loved it and wish they were still here for my generation today. With James Wright passing away in 1980 he was not around to see all the Jobs head south or get shipped to China and to see what the Valley was ett wltn, wnlcn Is next to notnlng. tne OITTlculty 0T someone wltnout a college education trying to get a Job and having to work at a retail store or restaurant and the problem that we have here now along with the rest of Appalachia drug abuse. I think that of someone who had the same view as Wright did back then and could take a ride on Ohio route 7 from Weirton to Powhatan Point and see what has happened here and see all the empty factories and towns they would have a better appreciation of those days.