Methow Valley resident and poet Greg Wright recently released his first volume of poetry, “The Gospel of Doubt.” This 180-page book of “speculative-fiction personal poems,” Greg says, “chronicles the years that Simon Bar-Jonah (known to history as Simon Peter, or St. Peter) spent with Jesus of Nazareth. The poems are written as if Simon Peter were the poet, writing as events occurred, and are in his voice as well as the voices of those he encountered while discipling with Jesus.”
“The Gospel of Doubt” represents the culmination of four years of research followed by four years of writing and editing. It’s Greg’s first collection of poetry, but the former computer scientist, film critic and pastor is no stranger to publishing. As a press release notes, Greg has published or contributed to more than twenty books in recent decades, including 2010’s “West of Gospel.” More recently, Greg’s work with the Methow’s Confluence Poets has appeared in “The Shrub-Steppe Poetry Journal,” “Whispers of Wenatchee,” and the Washington State “Poetic Routes.”
Greg found his place in the Methow Valley in 2018, when a road trip to the valley for the Winthrop Rhythm & Blues Festival offered him a series of serendipitous moments: a chance discovery of a u-pick raspberry patch in peak season, a sunset dinner at Sun Mountain Lodge overlooking the valley, a doe in an alfalfa field, an enchanting encounter with a butterfly. Greg was in the midst of significant life changes, but his mind was open to possibilities, which allowed him to embrace the gifts in the unexpected offerings. Six weeks after this initial weekend visit to the valley, Greg became a resident.
Greg says that he has been “writing awful poetry since I was 6 or 7 years old!” An apprenticeship with visiting poet Jane Shore at the UW taught him “how to figure out how to keep the parts that are working and refine them into something worth sharing.”
“Being a writer,” Greg says, “is kind of like being a theater performer — or a prophet, who is rarely welcome in his own town. Which is to say, friends and family are very enthusiastic out of the gate, but soon their reaction is, ‘Oh, Greg’s in another play,’ or, ‘Well, Greg’s got another book out.’”
This book, though, Greg says, is different from his others, in part because he wrote the poems during “the final stage of his late wife’s battle with terminal illness.” St. Peter’s road on the life of faith was marked by struggle and doubt; so, too, was Greg’s road during his late wife’s illness.
The poems of “The Gospel of Doubt” deal with “the stories between the stories,” Greg says. “If you think you’ve heard it all before, as a lot of us have, you’ll find something new. Peter’s story arc is one of getting progressively outside himself, which is hopeful and pretty universal — and timely, as we emerge from a pandemic that has forced a lot of us to turn inward.”
Methow Press, which is owned and operated by Greg, will be celebrating the release of The Gospel of Doubt at 7 p.m. on April 11 with a free, socially distanced and attendance-capped reading and book signing at the Methow Valley Community Center. Free tickets can be obtained at https://gospel-of-doubt.brownpapertickets.com.
Copies of “The Gospel of Doubt” may be found at Valley Goods, the Confluence Gallery Gift Shop, and The Iron Horse in Winthrop.