C. D. Wright Analysis

Other literary forms

(Poets and Poetry in America)

C. D. Wright is known principally for her poetry, but in recent volumes, her expanding line has led to a sort of prose poem that seems to morph into essay. Wright has also worked with photographer Deborah Luster (who did photography for Just Whistle), most notably in their joint project One Big Self, in which Luster’s prison photographs join with Wright’s long poem to create a portrait of the lives of the incarcerated. The work was reprinted without the photographs in 2007. Cooling Time is a sort of hybrid joining of essay, epigram, and poem, mostly offering insights into Wright’s life and poetics. Wright has also written a collection of short biographies of Arkansas writers, The Lost Roads Project: A Walk-in Book of Arkansas, published in 1994.


(Poets and Poetry in America)

C. D. Wright’s career has been marked by a growing list of honors beginning in 1981 with a National Endowment for the Arts award. She won the Witter Bynner Prize for Poetry of the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters (1986), the Whiting Writers’ Award (1989), the Rhode Island Governor’s Award for the Arts (1990), the Poetry Center Book Award from San Francisco State University (1991) for String Light, and the Lila Wallace-Reader’s Digest Writers’ Award (1992). In 1994, she began a five-year appointment as state poet of Rhode Island. With Deborah Luster, she won the Dorothea Langue-Paul Taylor Prize for collaboration from the Center for Documentary Studies in 2000. In 1999, she received the Lannan Literary Award for Poetry. She was shortlisted for the Griffin Poetry Prize in 2003 for Steal Away. Wright received a MacArthur Fellowship in 2004 and the Griffin Poetry Prize in 2009 for Rising, Falling, Hovering.


(Poets and Poetry in America)

Colburn, Nadia Herman. “About C. D. Wright.” Ploughshares 28 (Winter, 2002): 204-209. Colburn offers a biographical sketch of Wright with attention to Wright’s growth away from strict “poetry” and into a hybrid of poetry and prose.

Keller, Lynn. Thinking Poetry: Readings in Contemporary Women’s Exploratory Poetics. Iowa City: University of Iowa Press, 2010. Contains a chapter on Wright’s experimental poetry.

Orr, David. Review of Steal Away. Poetry 182 (June, 2003): 170-173. A meaty review of Wright’s volume of collected work, giving particular attention to her use of southern vernacular.

Parini, Jay, ed. American Writers: A Collection of Literary Biographies—Woody Allen to C. D. Wright. Supplement 15. Detroit: Scribners, 2006. Contains an entry on the life and works of Wright.

Wright, C. D. “During the Compositions of Rising, Falling, Hovering: A Personal Document of the War, of Mexico, and an American Family’s Halting Progress.” Chicago Review 53 (Summer, 2008): 349-355. Wright discusses her various times spent in Mexico as well as her difficult relationship with her teenaged son while America’s war with Iraq raged to illustrate the process by which the poem was composed.

_______. “Provisional Remarks on Being/ a Poet/ of Arkansas.” Southern Review 30 (Autumn, 1994): 809. Wright states some of her beliefs about how poetry works and cites her allegiance to southern dialect. She also comments on the limits of narrative.