Carolyn D. Wright

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Carolyn D. Wright
Wright, CD in CA.jpg
Carolyn Doris Wright

(1949-01-06)January 6, 1949
DiedJanuary 12, 2016(2016-01-12) (aged 67)
Alma mater University of Memphis, University of Arkansas
Occupationpoet, professor
Known for MacArthur Fellowship

Carolyn D. "C. D." Wright (January 6, 1949 – January 12, 2016) was an American poet. [1] She was a MacArthur Fellow, a Guggenheim Fellow, and the Poet Laureate of Rhode Island.

Poet person who writes and publishes poetry

A poet is a person who creates poetry. Poets may describe themselves as such or be described as such by others. A poet may simply be a writer of poetry, or may perform their art to an audience.



C. D. Wright was born in Mountain Home, Arkansas, to a chancery judge and a court reporter. She earned a BA in French from Memphis State University (now the University of Memphis) in 1971 and briefly attended law school before leaving to pursue an MFA from the University of Arkansas, which she received in 1976. Her poetry thesis was titled Alla Breve Loving.

Mountain Home, Arkansas City in Arkansas, United States

Mountain Home is a city in, and the county seat of, Baxter County, Arkansas, United States, in the southern Ozark Mountains near the northern state border with Missouri. As of the 2010 census, the city had a population of 12,448. A total of 41,307 persons lived within the city and micropolitan area combined, which encompasses the majority of Baxter County.

University of Memphis public research university in Memphis, Tennessee, USA

The University of Memphis, colloquially known as U of M, is a public research university in Memphis, Tennessee. Founded in 1912, the university has an enrollment of more than 21,000 students.

University of Arkansas public research university in Fayetteville, Arkansas, USA

The University of Arkansas is a public land-grant, research university in Fayetteville, Arkansas. It is the flagship campus of the University of Arkansas System and the largest, best-known university in the state. Founded as Arkansas Industrial University in 1871, its present name was adopted in 1899 and classes were first held on January 22, 1872. It is noted for its strong architecture, agriculture, business, communication disorders, creative writing, history, law, and Middle Eastern studies programs.

In 1977, the publishing company founded by Frank Stanford, Lost Roads Publishers, published Wright's first collection, Room Rented by A Single Woman. After Stanford died in 1978, Wright took over Lost Roads, continuing its mission of publishing new poets and starting the practice of publishing translations. In 1979, she moved to San Francisco, where she met poet Forrest Gander. Wright and Gander married in 1983 and had a son, Brecht. The husband and wife were co-editors at Lost Roads until 2005. [2]

Frank Stanford was an American poet. He is most known for his epic, The Battlefield Where The Moon Says I Love You—a labyrinthine poem without stanzas or punctuation. In addition, Stanford published six shorter books of poetry throughout his 20s, and three posthumous collections of his writings have also been published.

Lost Roads is a small press founded in 1976 in Arkansas by poet Frank Stanford. Its stated mission is to publish essential books in contemporary literature. After Stanford's death in 1978, editorship was assumed by poet C. D. Wright, whose book, Room Rented by a Single Woman (1977), had been the press's first release. Wright co-edited the press with poet Forrest Gander for many years. The current editor is Susan Scarlata.

Forrest Gander Poet, essayist, novelist, critic, translator

Forrest Gander is an American poet, essayist, novelist, critic, and translator.

In 1981, Wright and Gander moved to Dolores Hidalgo, Mexico, where she completed her third book of poems, Translation of the Gospel Back into Tongues. In 1983, they moved to Providence, Rhode Island, where she began teaching at Brown University as the Israel J. Kapstein Professor of English. [3] Over the next 30 years, Wright won many major American literary prizes (including fellowships from the Lila Wallace, Guggenheim, Lannan, and MacArthur Foundations) while publishing one of the most eclectic bodies of poetic work of her generation. The cyclical erotic and tormented fragments of Just Whistle are as distinct from the compressed, sensual narratives of Translation of the Gospel Back into Tongues as from the lyrical southern paeans of Further Adventures with You. Perhaps her most original and internationally influential publications are the book-length works Deepstep Come Shining, One Big Self, and One With Others. Each developed, in new directions, Wright's formally innovative and fundamentally ethical meditations on the South, on race relations, on incarceration, and on the lives of the unsung. Together, those books helped to define and extend the possibilities for documentary poetics in the 21st century. In 2013, Wright was elected a chancellor of the Academy of American Poets. [4] Stephanie Burt has described Wright as an Elliptical Poet, [5] but Burt did not use that description in an essay she published as a tribute to Wright just after Wright's death. [6] As Joel Brouwer has said, she "belongs to a school of exactly one." [7]

Providence, Rhode Island capital of Rhode Island

Providence is the capital and most populous city of the U.S. state of Rhode Island and is one of the oldest cities in the United States. It was founded in 1636 by Roger Williams, a Reformed Baptist theologian and religious exile from the Massachusetts Bay Colony. He named the area in honor of "God's merciful Providence" which he believed was responsible for revealing such a haven for him and his followers. The city is situated at the mouth of the Providence River at the head of Narragansett Bay.

Brown University University in Providence, Rhode Island

Brown University is a private Ivy League research university in Providence, Rhode Island. Founded in 1764 as the College in the English Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, it is the seventh-oldest institution of higher education in the United States and one of the nine colonial colleges chartered before the American Revolution.

The Academy of American Poets is a national, member-supported organization that promotes poets and the art of poetry. The nonprofit organization was incorporated in the state of New York in 1934. It fosters the readership of poetry through outreach activities such as National Poetry Month, its website, the syndicated series Poem-a-Day, American Poets magazine, readings and events, and poetry resources for K-12 educators. In addition, it sponsors a portfolio of nine major poetry awards, of which the first was a fellowship created in 1946 to support a poet and honor "distinguished achievement," and more than 200 prizes for student poets.

C.D. Wright died on January 12, 2016, at the age of 67. [8] Her brother, Warren Wright, reported that she "died peacefully in her sleep of thrombosis, a clot, after an overly long flight from Chile." At the time of her death, she was living in Barrington, Rhode Island. [9]

Thrombosis vascular disease caused by the formation of a blood clot inside a blood vessel, obstructing the flow of blood through the circulatory system

Thrombosis is the formation of a blood clot inside a blood vessel, obstructing the flow of blood through the circulatory system. When a blood vessel is injured, the body uses platelets (thrombocytes) and fibrin to form a blood clot to prevent blood loss. Even when a blood vessel is not injured, blood clots may form in the body under certain conditions. A clot, or a piece of the clot, that breaks free and begins to travel around the body is known as an embolus.

Chile republic in South America

Chile, officially the Republic of Chile, is a South American country occupying a long, narrow strip of land between the Andes to the east and the Pacific Ocean to the west. It borders Peru to the north, Bolivia to the northeast, Argentina to the east, and the Drake Passage in the far south. Chilean territory includes the Pacific islands of Juan Fernández, Salas y Gómez, Desventuradas, and Easter Island in Oceania. Chile also claims about 1,250,000 square kilometres (480,000 sq mi) of Antarctica, although all claims are suspended under the Antarctic Treaty.

Barrington, Rhode Island Town in Rhode Island, United States

Barrington is a suburban, residential town in Bristol County, Rhode Island located approximately 7 miles (11 km) southeast of Providence. It was founded by Congregationalist separatists from Swansea, Massachusetts and incorporated in 1717.


Wright's poetry is rooted in a sense of place and time and often employs distinct voices in dialogue, particularly those of the American South. Her work is formally inventive and often documentary in spirit, in the sense that it honors those whose stories or voices might be lost, were it not for her own writing. Her diction mixes high and low to surprising effect, and her range of reference is both broad and deep, including phrases from other languages, allusions to other poems, and pieces of conversation. Her books include precisely distilled lyrics such as those collected in Tremble as well as book-length poems beginning with Just Whistle, her first collaboration with photographer Deborah Luster. [10]

Poetry form of literature

Poetry is a form of literature that uses aesthetic and rhythmic qualities of language—such as phonaesthetics, sound symbolism, and metre—to evoke meanings in addition to, or in place of, the prosaic ostensible meaning.

In a 2001 interview with Kent Johnson, Wright said,

As to my own aesthetic associations—affiliations, sympathies—I have never belonged to a notable element of writers who identified with one another partly because I come from Arkansas, specifically that part of Arkansas known for its resistance-to-joining, a non-urban environment where readily identifiable groups and sub-groups are less likely to form.

In the same interview, she states,

The theoretically-driven San Francisco poets who were in cahoots with poets in New York and conversant with European vanguard movements—they provided me with a need to become critically aware of my back-home ways; sharpened me to a degree. I'm grateful for the exposure, the education. I am indebted to particular poets' work from that point in time, but I am not an intellectual in the sense that qualifies or requires me to belong to a manifestoed-group. And of course one comes to take some pride in one's own outsider status. [11]

Wright published literary maps of both Rhode Island and Arkansas. [12] Wright's later work includes String Light; Deepstep Come Shining, a book-length poem; and One Big Self: Prisoners of Louisiana, another collaboration with photographer Deborah Luster. One Big Self: An Investigation [13] contains just the poems. Her poems are featured in American Alphabets: 25 Contemporary Poets (2006) and many other anthologies. One With Others [14] mixes investigative journalism, history and poetry to explore homegrown civil rights incidents and the critical role her mentor, a brilliant and difficult woman, played in a little-known 1969 March Against Fear in her native Arkansas. [15] Shortly after Wright's death in January 2016, Copper Canyon Press published The Poet, the Lion, Talking Pictures, El Farolito, a Wedding in St. Roch, the Big Box Store, the Warp in the Mirror, Spring, Midnights, Fire & All, [16] a book of prosimetric essays, and ShallCross, [17] a book of both short- and long-form poems.


John Reed, David Biespiel and Wright at the after party for the National Book Critics Circle Awards, March 2012 NBCC Awards After Party 2012 Shankbone 26.JPG
John Reed, David Biespiel and Wright at the after party for the National Book Critics Circle Awards, March 2012


This list of works has been taken mostly from C. D. Wright's entry at the Academy of American Poets web page titled "C. D. Wright".

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  1. "C.D. Wright Interview with Kent Johnson for Jacket". Retrieved September 18, 2011.
  2. Fox, Margalit (2016-01-16). "C. D. Wright, Poet of Ozarks and Beyond, Dies at 67". The New York Times. ISSN   0362-4331 . Retrieved 2016-02-11.
  3. "C. D. Wright (1949–2016) - Encyclopedia of Arkansas".
  4. "Academy of American Poets". Archived from the original on May 3, 2013. Retrieved May 7, 2012.
  5. "C.D. Wright Interview with Kent Johnson for Jacket". Retrieved September 18, 2011.
  6. Los Angeles Times (January 20, 2016). "Poet C.D. Wright was 'one of the great ones'". Retrieved April 8, 2016.
  7. "Counting the Dead". The New York Times. June 22, 2008.
  8. "C. D. Wright, January 6, 1949–January 12, 2016".
  9. "C.D. Wright, ex-R.I. state poet and MacArthur 'genius grant' winner, dies at 67". The Providence Journal. January 14, 2016. Retrieved January 14, 2016.
  10. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on October 14, 2013. Retrieved October 13, 2013.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  11. Johnson, Kent. “Looking for ‘one untranslatable song’: C.D. Wright on poetics, collaboration, American prisoners, and Frank Stanford.” Jacket 15 (December 2001)
  12. "C.D. Wright wins high honor: Canada's Griffin Poetry Prize |Today at Brown". June 4, 2009. Retrieved September 18, 2011.
  13. "One Big Self: An Investigation, poetry by C.D. Wright". Copper Canyon Press.
  14. "One With Others by C.D. Wright". Copper Canyon Press.
  15. Chiasson, Dan. "Southern Comfort," The New Yorker, 3 Jan. 2011. Retrieved 10 Aug. 2018. The woman's name was Margaret Kaelin McHugh, whom Wright called "V".
  18. "C. D. Wright - John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation". Archived from the original on June 28, 2011. Retrieved September 18, 2011.
  19. "C.D. Wright: 1989 Winner in Poetry," Mrs. Giles Whiting Foundation. Retrieved 10 Aug. 2018.
  20. "C.D. Wright," under "State Poets > Rhode Island," Library of Congress, 23 Feb, 2018. Retrieved 10 Aug. 2018.
  21. "C.D. Wright, Foundation for Contemporary Arts. Retrieved 10 Aug. 2018. Includes bio and artist's statement dated 2000.
  22. "C. D. Wright," John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, 2018. Retrieved 10 Aug. 2018.
  23. "Robert Creeley Foundation » Award – Robert Creeley Award". Retrieved 2018-03-23.
  24. "C.D. Wright". The Griffin Trust For Excellence In Poetry. Retrieved August 10, 2018. Includes a brief video of Wright reading an excerpt.
  25. "C.D. Wright, One with Others - 2010 National Book Award Poetry Finalist, The National Book Foundation". Retrieved September 18, 2011. List of 2010 winners and finalists
  26. "2010 Awards, Poetry Winner, All Past National Book Critics Circle Award Winners and Finalists," National Book Critics Circle, 2018. Retrieved 10 Aug. 2018.
  27. "Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize," Academy of American Poets, 2018. Retrieved 10 Aug. 2018.
External media
Nuvola apps arts.svg .mp3 recording of Wright reading from "One Big Self" during the Key West Literary Seminar, 2003
Nuvola apps kaboodle.svg Griffin Poetry Prize readings, including video clips
Nuvola apps kaboodle.svg Interview with CD Wright on Words on a Wire
Nuvola apps kaboodle.svg C.D. Wright reading for UC Berkeley's Holloway Series. October 23, 2014.