C.D. Wright’s work is enormously varied: 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 is rooted in the landscape and people of her childhood in the Ozark Mountains of Arkansas.
Long admired for the honed ferocity of her vision, she wrote with a distinctive Southern accent and a cinematic eye, cut with a secular wit that only slightly tempers her exigency. The resulting poems are hypnotic documentaries that offer what she called ‘a once-and-for-all thing, opaque and revelatory, ceaselessly burning’. Bloodaxe published her first UK retrospective Like Something Flying Backwards: New & Selected Poems in 2007.
In One with Others, Wright returned to her native Arkansas and examines an explosive incident grounded in the Civil Rights Movement. In her signature style, she interweaves oral histories, hymns, lists, interviews, newspaper accounts, and personal memories – especially those of her incandescent mentor, V (Mrs Vittitow) – with the voices of witnesses, neighbours, police, activists and a group of black students who were rounded up and detained in an empty public swimming pool. This is a history told by many voices, and it leaps howling off the page. Both a book-length poem and a probing work of investigative journalism, One with Others won the National Book Circle Critics Award.