C. D. Wright
In 1949, C. D. Wright was born in Mountain Home, Arkansas. She received a BA degree from Memphis State College (now the University of Memphis) in 1971 and an MFA from the University of Arkansas in 1976.
She has published numerous volumes of poetry including One With Others (Copper Canyon Press, 2010) which received the 2011 Lenore Marshall Prize from the Academy of American Poets; 40 Watts (Octopus Books, 2009); Rising, Falling, Hovering (Copper Canyon Press, 2008), which won the Griffin Poetry Prize; Cooling Time: An American Poetry Vigil (2005); Steal Away: New and Selected Poems (2002); and One Big Self: Prisoners of Louisiana (2003), with photographer Deborah Luster.
Her other books include Deepstep Come Shining (1998); Tremble (1996); Just Whistle (1993); String Light (1991), which won the Poetry Center Book Award; Further Adventures with You (1986); and Translation of the Gospel Back into Tongues (1981). She has also published two state literary maps, one for Arkansas, her native state, and one for Rhode Island, her adopted state.
While much of Wright's early work is narrative in content, her later poetry is characterized by experimental forms, sharp wit, and a strong sense of place, most notably rooted in the Ozarks and Rhode Island. "Poetry is a necessity of life," Wright has said. "It is a function of poetry to locate those zones inside us that would be free, and declare them so."
About her work, a reviewer for The New Yorker wrote: "Wright has found a way to wed fragments of an iconic America to a luminously strange idiom, eerie as a tin whistle, which she uses to evoke the haunted quality of our carnal existence."
Among her numerous honors are fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Guggenheim Foundation, MacArthur Foundation, the Bunting Institute, as well as awards from the Lannan Foundation, the Witter Bynner Prize, and a Whiting Award. In 1994 she was named Poet Laureate of Rhode Island, a five-year post.
In 2013, Wright was elected a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets. In Anne Waldman praised her selection, saying:
"Brilliantly astute, generous, witty, panoramic, celebratory, C.D. Wright is one of our most fearless writers, possessed with an urgency that pierces through the darkness of our time. She carries a particular Southern demographic that bears witness, that investigates history, humanity, and consciousness in powerfully innovative, often breathtaking language. Hers is a necessary poetics, on fire with life and passion for what matters."
With her husband, poet Forrest Gander, she edits Lost Roads Publishers. Wright teaches at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island.
A Selected Bibliography
Room Rented By A Single Woman (1977)
Translation of the Gospel Back into Tongues (1981)
Further Adventures with You (1986)
String Light (1991)
Just Whistle (1993)
Deepstep Come Shining (1998)
Steal Away: New and Selected Poems (2002)
One Big Self: Prisoners of Louisiana, with Deborah Luster, (2003)
Cooling Time: An American Poetry Vigil (2005)
Rising, Falling, Hovering (Copper Canyon Press, 2008)
One With Others (Copper Canyon Press, 2010)
40 Watts (Octopus Books, 2009)