"Through more than a dozen collections, C.D. Wright pushed the bounds of imagination as she explored desire, loss and physical sensation. Her posthumously published book, ShallCross features seven poem sequences that show her tremendous range in style and approach. As she considers, among other topics, some dark intuitions about human nature, she also nudges readers to question who is telling the story and where one’s thought can lead."—The Washington Post
"Wright gets better with each book, expanding the reach of her art; it seems it could take in anything."—Publishers Weekly
"Wright belongs to a school of exactly one."—New York Times Book Review
"C.D. Wright is entirely her own poet, a true original."—The Gettysburg Review
In a turbulent world, C.D. Wright evokes a rebellious and dissonant ethos with characteristic genre-bending and expanding long-form poems. Accessing journalistic writing alongside filmic narratives, Wright ranges across seven poetic sequences, including a collaborative suite responding to photographic documentation of murder sites in New Orleans. ShallCross shows plain as day that C.D. Wright is our most thrilling and innovative poet.
From "Obscurity and Elegance":
Whether or not the park was safe
she was going in. A study concluded, for a park
to be successful there had to be women.
The man next to the monument must have broken
away from her. Perhaps years
before. That the bond had been carnal is obvious.
He said he was just out clearing his head…
C.D. Wright (1949-2016) taught at Brown University for decades and published over a dozen works of poetry and prose, including One With Others, which won the National Book Critics Circle Award and was nominated for a National Book Award; One Big Self: An Investigation; and Rising Falling Hovering. Among her many honors are the Griffin International Poetry Prize and a MacArthur Fellowship.
On the heels of her stunning lyric prose collection The Poet, The Lion, Talking Pictures..., the late Wright's (1949 2016) first posthumous book there's more to come is a collection that emphasizes Wright as a poet who diligently and mercifully observed and tuned her language to the world she saw. In each brief poem of the opening sequence, "40 Watts," Wright subtly illuminates a distinctly American darkness to reveal clipped, everyday scenes "the raw fumes of some wildness." In contrast, she constructs the sprawling, gestural, and polyphonic long poem "Breathtaken" from crime reports and interviews with the families of victims of homicides in New Orleans. Yet both render language from silence and form from that which is hidden, a skill that may be Wright's trademark. The poems in the second half of this book deal explicitly with this passage from hidden to visible, unknown to exposed. Toward the collection's end, "Closer" presents decontextualized descriptions and speech that slowly cohere as a wife attends to a husband's body: "The mystery, wrote the woman, in how little we know of other people, is no greater than how much. The converse is also true." Wright possessed a gift for mining the rifts and limitations that define and haunt human experience a power fully displayed here.