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C. D. Wright was born and raised in the Ozark Mountains of Arkansas. She has published 12 previous poetry collections. Her collaboration with photographer Deborah Luster, a journey into the prison-industrial complex entitled One Big Self, was honoured with a Lange-Taylor Prize from the Center for Documentary Studies. Wright has also received fellowships from the MacArthur Foundation, the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Lannan Foundation. In the 1990s she served for five years as the State Poet of Rhode Island. Wright is currently the Israel J. Kapstein Professor of English at Brown University, and lives outside Providence, Rhode Island.

Rising, Falling, Hovering

Copper Canyon Press
2009 Winner
United States
Shortlisted in:

Judges’ Citation

C.D. Wright’s work is plain gorgeous; it is clean-wrought, rich, rambunctious, and pure-thrown, like a perfect game.

C.D. Wright’s work is plain gorgeous; it is clean-wrought, rich, rambunctious, and pure-thrown, like a perfect game. This is the generous art of a graceful outlaw troubadour, singing to us as if from within ourselves. The poems seem written not with ink or pencil-lead but with life-stuff itself as their matter, alphabet, and orthography. They are dense with a sense of substance and absence, love and grief and humor and horror. And how unusual it is, this mix of classes, races, sensualities, economies and vocabularies – as if a people were writing its (our) true poetry. Here is a radical home voice, an original vision, luminously peculiar/precise; here is a new American music, with a green, wisdom-struck clarity and mercy.

Judges’ Citation

C. D. Wright’s thirteenth collection, Rising, Falling, Hovering, reminds us what poetry is for.

C. D. Wright’s thirteenth collection, Rising, Falling, Hovering, reminds us what poetry is for. This is poetry as white phosphorus, written with merciless love and depthless anger, but it is ‘not a chemical weapon, it’s an incendiary … it is for illumination’. Rising, Falling, Hovering is about conflict, local and global, and how failures of the heart bring disaster on every scale. In the long poem that anchors this book, Wright ties together the war in Iraq, the war on the poor, the challenges borders present, and family crises to create a portrait of the human soul riven by separateness. It is, primarily, a red-hot political epic, in which Wright states ‘to be ashamed is to be American’ and that ‘happiness is for amateurs’. And yet, how can we react to a poetry this alive with invention and purpose but with joy? In Rising, Falling, Hovering, C. D. Wright wakes the reader – from dreams of both a perfect world and one drowned in horror – to the saving beauty of clear sight. Over a long career marked by deep moral engagement and constant reinvention, Wright has placed herself and her readers ‘at a crossroads’, as she writes, which is not just a place, but ‘the very instant you stopped looking for meaning and began rifling among the folds of feeling instead where things were to be made new again …