cover image Casting Deep Shade

Casting Deep Shade

C.D. Wright. Copper Canyon, $32 (160p) ISBN 978-1-55659-548-6

MacArthur fellow Wright (1949–2016) honed her vernacular and her politically and socially astute poetry over 16 genre-blending collections, including One with Others (winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award). She always kept one foot in her native Ozarks while consistently expanding her idea of what a single life, a single place, or a single way of thinking could embrace. After her sudden death, Copper Canyon released her then recently completed Shallcross, which is now followed by this 17th book. Composed of snippets of prose on ecological histories, historical narratives, folklore, etymologies, personal asides, travel memoir, cultural commentary, and moving family autobiography, the book begins as a loving naturalist’s ode to the beech tree and branches out to touch a dizzying array of international, transhistorical topics, not least among them what it means to be alive. Fans of Wright will find what they’re looking for in this collection, which is presented as a three-panel, hardcover box and featuring interstitial photographs of Beeches by Denny Moers. But the writing itself sometimes feels unfinished, lacking some of the sharpness that made Wright such an astute observer of other lives and of our world. The result is a kind of traveler’s diary—with all the imperfection that term affords—one anchored by a deep, abiding respect for what Wright termed “beech-consciousness.” (Feb.)