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C.D. Wright

C.D. Wright (1949-2016) could be described in many ways: she was an experimental writer, a Southern writer, and a socially committed writer, yet she continuously reinvented herself with each new volume. Much of her poetry was rooted in the landscape and people of her childhood in the Ozark Mountains of Arkansas.

She published numerous volumes of poetry, including One With Others (Copper Canyon Press, 2010) which was a finalist for the National Book Award and won the 2011 National Book Critics Circle Award and the Lenore Marshall Prize, and ShallCross (Copper Canyon Press, 2016). In Cooling Time, a book comprised of poetry, memoir and essay, she wrote, “Many writers maintain a guarded border between language thick with hair and twigs and the reified, rarified stuff. No matter which side of the border poets live on, they tend to act as if they were being overrun. All I want is a day pass. I like to sleep in my own bed.” A recipient of a Lannan Literary Award and a MacArthur Fellowship, Wright was for many years a professor of English at Brown University.

Wright collaborated on many projects with photographer Deborah Luster, including One Big Self: Prisoners of Louisiana, which featured photographs from the state’s prisons accompanied by poems inspired by Wright’s interviews with inmates. Other projects with Luster included the compilation and publication of two state literary maps: one of her native state of Arkansas, the other of her adopted state, Rhode Island.

Prizes, Awards & Fellowships
  • 1999 Lannan Literary Award for Poetry
  • 2003