cover image ShallCross


C.D. Wright. Copper Canyon (Consortium, dist.), $23 (140p) ISBN 978-1-55659-496-0

On the heels of her stunning lyric prose collection The Poet, The Lion, Talking Pictures..., the late Wright’s (1949–2016) first posthumous book—there’s more to come—is a collection that emphasizes Wright as a poet who diligently and mercifully observed and tuned her language to the world she saw. In each brief poem of the opening sequence, “40 Watts,” Wright subtly illuminates a distinctly American darkness to reveal clipped, everyday scenes—“the raw fumes of some wildness.” In contrast, she constructs the sprawling, gestural, and polyphonic long poem “Breathtaken” from crime reports and interviews with the families of victims of homicides in New Orleans. Yet both render language from silence and form from that which is hidden, a skill that may be Wright’s trademark. The poems in the second half of this book deal explicitly with this passage from hidden to visible, unknown to exposed. Toward the collection’s end, “Closer” presents decontextualized descriptions and speech that slowly cohere as a wife attends to a husband’s body: “The mystery, wrote the woman, in how little we know of other people, is no greater than how much. The converse is also true.” Wright possessed a gift for mining the rifts and limitations that define and haunt human experience—a power fully displayed here. (May)