Honored in "Best Books of the Year" listings from The New Yorker, National Public Radio, Library Journal, and The Huffington Post.
"One With Others represents Wright's most audacious experiment yet."—The New Yorker
"[A] book . . . that defies description and discovers a powerful mode of its own."— National Public Radio
"[A] searing dissection of hate crimes and their malignant legacy."—Booklist
Today, Gentle Reader,
the sermon once again: "Segregation
After Death." Showers in the a.m.
The threat they say is moving from the east.
The sheriff's club says Not now. Not
nokindofhow. Not never. The children's
minds say Never waver. Air
fanned by a flock of hands in the old
funeral home where the meetings
were called [because Mrs. Oliver
owned it free and clear], and
that selfsame air, sanctified
and doomed, rent with racism, and
it percolates up from the soil itself . . .
In this National Book Award finalist and National Book Critics Circle Award finalist, C.D. Wright returns to her native Arkansas and examines explosive incidents grounded in the Civil Rights Movement. In her signature style, Wright interweaves oral histories, hymns, lists, interviews, newspaper accounts, and personal memories—especially those of her incandescent mentor, Mrs. Vittitow—with the voices of witnesses, neighbors, police, and activists. This history leaps howling off the page.
C.D. Wright has published over a dozen works of poetry and prose. Among her honors are the Griffin Poetry Prize and a MacArthur Fellowship. She teaches at Brown University and lives outside of Providence, Rhode Island.
In 1969, a Tennessean known as "Sweet Willie Wine" led a small group of African-American men on a "walk against fear" through smalltown Arkansas. This event grounds Wright's most recent blending of poetry and investigative journalism. A tribute to Wright's mentor "V" an autodidact, activist, and bourbon-swilling mother of eight, whose support for the march ("I would have followed Sweet Willie Wine into hell") made her "a disaffiliated member of her race" the book probes the limits and intersections of the personal and the political. Wright intersperses descriptions of the Arkansas landscape; her own journey researching; transcriptions from V, her family, and others who experienced the events of that violent summer; lists of prices ("the only sure thing in those days"); the weather ("temperatures in the 90s even after a shower"), newspaper headlines; and personal memories. Through juxtaposition and repetition, she weaves a compelling, disturbing, and often beautiful tapestry that at once questions the ability of language to get at the complicated truth of history ("because the warp is everywhere"), and underscores the ethical imperative to try. As Wright learns from V, "To act, just to act. That was the glorious thing."