Award-winning poet CD Wright dead at 67

AP News
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Posted: Jan 14, 2016 4:31 PM

NEW YORK (AP) — C.D. Wright, an award-winning poet renowned for her forceful and eclectic style, her fusion of lyricism and reportage, and her passion for writing, has died. She was 67.

Wright died Tuesday at her home in Barrington, Rhode Island, according to publisher Copper Canyon Press. Spokeswoman Kelly Forsythe told The Associated Press on Thursday that Wright died "unexpectedly" and the cause had not yet been determined. A former poet laureate of Rhode Island, Wright was a professor of poetry at Brown University at the time of her death.

Carolyn Delores Wright was a National Book Award finalist and winner of the National Book Critics Circle prize for her 2010 collection, "One With Others," a full-length work of prose and poetry, based on a true story about a group of black men marching from West Memphis, Tennessee, to Little Rock, Arkansas. It was the summer of 1969, a year after the assassination of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., and they were joined by a white woman identified as V. who has become an outcast in her community because of her participation in the march.

"They drove my friend V out of her home," Wright writes. "They drove her out of the town. They drove her out of the state."

In an autobiographical sketch published in 1986, Wright noted that she was an Arkansas native who lived in the Ozarks until age 17. She would later spend time in Mississippi, Georgia, Tennessee and the Northeast, but the setting of her childhood would long shape her writing, whether the landscape or the segregation of the races.

"The geographic sovereignty of my state of origin goes unchallenged by me," she wrote. "For its natural resources, no other single land mass is more suited to being a country than Arkansas. And were such a thing to come to pass, no other country would more resemble the dread South Africa."

She wrote more than a dozen books, the others including "Rising, Falling, Hovering," ''One Big Self" and "Steal Away." Just last week, Copper Canyon published a book of her essays, expansively titled, "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."

In her 1986 essay, Wright wrote that her poems were "about desire, conflict, the dearth of justice for all. About persons of small means." Her prose, on the other hand, was "private, meditative, without a cast, discernible intention, goal or dramatic fulcrum."

"My prose," she concluded, "is about language if it is about any one thing."

She is survived by a brother, Warren Wright; her husband, Forrest Gander; and her son, Brecht.