C.D. Wright

Distinguished Poet
NBCCA Winner
National Book Award Finalist 

“She's a true original, who manages to be odd, beautiful, tough as nails, and wonderfully inventive all in the same poetic line.” —Poets & Writers 

“C. D. Wright is now, and has been for decades, a uniquely unpredictable poet."
 —New York Times 

No single description adequately captures Wright’s work; she is an experimental writer, a Southern writer, and a socially committed writer, yet she continuously reinvents herself with each new volume.”
—The MacArthur Fellows Program

One of America’s most compelling and idiosyncratic poets, C.D. Wright "belongs to a school of exactly one" (NY Times). Born and raised in the Ozark Mountains of Arkansas, she is a radically restless writer, a composer of hybrid works such as Deepstep Come Shining and distilled lyric collections such as Tremble. Every title takes her further inside her subjects and extends the means and measure of her reach. Wright is concerned with a density of language, setting up a chain reaction using the least amount of verbal material.

She has published a dozen collections, most recently, One With Others: A Little Book of Her Days, winner of the 2010 National Book Critics Circle Award in Poetry, The Lenore Marshall Award, and finalist for the National Book Award. About this book, Dan Chiasson wrote in The New Yorker, "One with Others represents Wright’s most audacious experiment yet in loading up lyric with evidentiary fact. An affecting element of this book is the way its elegiac impulses accord with, even as they chafe against, the documentary impulses. Elegies are often accounts of searching for, and discovering, the ancient consolations, among them poetry. And so we have...a competing order of symbol and convention, which makes it possible for subjects otherwise scrupulously real to seem oddly mythic." 


NBCCA Review of One With Others


Rising, Falling, Hovering (Copper Canyon, 2008) won the 2009 International Griffin Prize for Poetry. Like Something Flying Backwards, New and Selected Poems was published in the UK by Bloodaxe Books followed by a Bloodaxe edition of One With Others. Another selected poems Like a Prisoner of Soft Words came out in translation in 2013 in Stockholm (W&W) and a translation of Tremble was released in Oslo (Oktober Press). Her collaboration with photographer Deborah Luster, One Big Self: Prisoners of Louisiana was awarded the Dorothea Lange-Paul Taylor Prize; and a text edition One With Others: an Investigation was published by Copper Canyon. Steal Away was on the Griffin International shortlist. String Light won the 1992 Poetry Center Book Award.


New York Times Article on C.D. Wright


 Wright is a recipient of a Macarthur Fellowship, a Lannan Literary Award, the Robert Creeley Award, and the Donald Justice Prize. She is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and is a chancellor of the Academy of American Poets. Wright is on the faculty at Brown University and lives outside of Providence with her husband, writer and translator Forrest Gander.



Investigative journalism is the poet's realm when C.D. Wright returns to her native Arkansas and examines an explosive incident from the civil rights movement. Wright interweaves oral histories, hymns, lists, newspaper accounts, and personal memories—especially those of her incandescent mentor, Mrs. Vititow—with the voices of witnesses, neighbors, police, activists, and black students who were rounded up and detained in an empty public swimming pool. This history leaps howling off the page.


About RISING, FALLING, HOVERING (Poetry, 2008)

Wright’s poetics have continued to evolve by radical twists and turns. Various aspects of her current style can be compared to the work of certain of her contemporaries, but considered holistically, Wright belongs to a school of exactly one.—Joe Brouwer, New York Times


C.D. Wright is an artist who has an unmistakable voice and penetrating vision; and her new book, Rising, Falling, Hovering, is an interweave of deeply personal and politically ferocious poems that write into the realities of our times—from illegal immigration and the specific consequences of Empire to the challenges of parenting and the honesty required of human-to-human relationship:

About the other night    I know you are sorry    I am sorry too    We were tired    Me
and my open-shut-case mouth    You and your clockwork disciplines    And I know it is too far to go   
But we can’t leave it to the forces to rub out the color of the world

There is living and perception and power in these poems. The sopa de pollo, or chicken soup, that recurs thematically through the book in reference to crossing al otro lado, to the other side, is a code word for the undocumented immigrants who die crossing the border from Mexico to the United States. Wright’s fragmentary yet fluid narrative unites them to other grave crises propagated by the US (“us”) as colonial superpower through provocative and sparse narrations, but also to the bodily experiences of not-so political situations. The world propels towards an Aztec-calendar’s impending end, uniting the phenomenon of imperialism to centuries of colonial history. But the style of Wright’s unpredictable language arcs through the historical context to reach with broadened vision deeper into the personal—even to the point of suggesting: