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On the Same Page with C.D. Wright

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Poet C.D. Wright, a native of Mountain Home, discusses her latest book, “One With Others: [a little book of her days],” . “One with Others” is a mix of poetry and prose in which Wright examines a racist event. The work began as an homage to an anonymous self-taught, literary friend who lived in the Arkansas Delta in the 1960s. Wright was a teenager when she first met the woman and continued to have a relationship with her until she died a few years ago in New York City. The book was nominated for the 2010 National Book Award.

Wright, the Israel J. Kapstein Professor of English at Brown University and a former poet laureate of Rhode Island, has published a dozen books of poetry and prose, including the recent volumes “One Big Self: An Investigation” and “Rising Falling Hovering,” which received the Griffin Poetry Award.

Wright also discusses her work organizing and curating the 1994 “Lost Roads Project: A Walk-in Book of Arkansas,” a multimedia exhibit including letterpress broadsides by Arkansas authors and photographs by Deborah Luster (also a native Arkansan), that traveled the state for two years. The project was awarded funding by the Lila Wallace Readers Digest Foundation and was published in book form, with Wright’s accompanying text, by the University of Arkansas Press. Accompanying it was “The Reader’s Map of Arkansas,” a poster documenting the state’s writers from the Hernando de Soto narratives to post-World War II poets.

TRANSCRIPT

HI AND WELCOME TO ON THE SAME PAGE. I'M TOMMY SANDERS. TODAY ON THE SHOW WORLD RENOWNED POET C.D. WRIGHT IN ARKANSAS, SHE HAS PRODUCED 12 YEARS OF POETRY AND PROSE INCLUDING ONE BIG SELF. ALSO THE LOST ROADS PROJECT A COMPENDIUM OF ARKANSAS WRITERS AND WRITING THROUGH THE YEARS. HER MOST RECENT WORK, A RISING FALLING RECOVERY, AND HER BRAND-NEW BOOK IS CALLED ONE WITH OTHERS. WE'LL TALK ABOUT THAT TODAY AND MORE WITH C.D. WRIGHT ON ON THE SAME PAGE.

C.D. WRIGHT, THANKS SO MUCH FOR SPENDING SOME TIME WITH US TODAY. WE SURE DO APPRECIATE IT. CONGRATULATIONS ON YOUR FANTASTIC CAREER IN POETRY.

THANK YOU. "WHO'D HAVE THUNK IT?".

BORN IN MOUNTAIN HOME, RAISED AND I ASSUME GRADUATED HIGH SCHOOL IN HARRISON, ARKANSAS?

I ALMOST GRADUATED FROM HIGH SCHOOL.

REALLY?

I SORT OF WAS NOT TOO KEEN ON STAYING IN HIGH SCHOOL. SO, I WENT ON TO ARKANSAS STATE FOR MY FRESHMAN YEARCTION.

HOST: IN JONESBORO.

I WAS A COMPULSIVE TRANSFER STUDENTS. I WENT FROM DRURY COLLEGE AND FROM DRURY COLLEGE TO UNIVERSITY OF MEMPHIS AND I DID GRADUATE WORK -- I WENT TO LAW SCHOOL EVEN BRIEFLY AT THE UNIVERSITY OF ARKANSAS. AND THEN I WENT TO GRADUATE SCHOOL AT THE UNIVERSITY OF ARKANSAS.

HOST: A SEARCHER, A SEEKER, LOOKING FOR THE RIGHT SITUATION.

MOST OF MY EDUCATION WAS IN ARKANSAS IN THE PUBLICIS ITEM.

HOST: WHEN IN THAT EDUCATION OR WAS IT EVEN DURING THE TIME OF YOUR EDUCATION, DID YOU DECIDE OR HAVE A FEELING THAT POETRY WAS GOING TO BE SOMETHING IMPORTANT IN YOUR LIFE?

I DON'T KNOW THAT I DECIDED THAT IT WAS GOING TO BE POETRY, BUT I DECIDED THAT I HAD THESE TERRIBLE LONGINGS TO BE AN ARTIST. AND I HAD NO PLACE TO PUT THOSE LONGINGS. BUT WE WERE BOOKISH IN OUR HOUSE. WE HAD A LOT OF BOOKS. MY DAD WAS A BIG READER, MY BROTHER WAS A READER. MY MOTHER WAS NOT SO MUCH A READER, BUT SHE LIKED CROSS WORD PUZZLES. SHE LOOKED WORDS. BUT BOOKS WERE AVAILABLE TO ME. THEY WERE ALWAYS AVAILABLE. THE LIBRARY WAS ALWAYS AVAILABLE.

HOST: YOU'RE A READER --

SO I GRAVITATED TOWARDTHXTION THAT. -- TOWARDS THAT. THAT WAS SOMETHING I COULD ACCESS. THEN WHEN I WAS 17, I MET A VERY REMARKABLE WOMAN IN EAST ARKANSAS WHO WAS AN OTTO DYDACT WHO MADE LITERATURE VERY VIVID TO ME. SHE MADE IT SEEM QUITE AUTHENTIC AND VERY MUCH -- WITH VERY SEAMLESS THE WAY SHE TALKED ABOUT BOOKS, AS THOUGH BOOKS -- THE PEOPLE, THE CHARACTERS IN THOSE BOOKS WERE HER FAMILIARS. AND LANGUAGE OF THOSE BOOKS WAS SOMETHING THAT SHE COULD JUST DROP INTO SENTENCES WHILE SHE WAS PLAYING POKER.

HOST: THIS IS SOMEONE WE'RE GOING TO TALK ABOUT. WE'LL TALK ABOUT YOUR BOOK IN A LITTLE BIT.

THAT PERSON, THAT WAS ANOTHER SPARK, I THINK. AND THEN IN COLLEGE IT BECAME MORE AND MORE APPARENT THAT THE ONLY ART PRACTICE I REALLY HAD A SHOT AT WAS WRITING.

HOST: HOW LONG BEFORE YOU REALIZED THAT YOU REALLY DID HAVE A SHOT AT IT? YOU HAD SOME FACILITY FOR MAKING POEMS AND FOR WRITING. AND WHEN DID YOUR CONFIDENCE START TO SET IN?

WELL, STILL, I WOULDN'T CALL IT A FACILITY. [LAUGHTER]

IT'S STILL -- FOR ME IT'S LIKE LIFTING A HUGE ROCK, MOVING IT FOUR FEET, REALIZING IT'S IN THE WRONG PLACE, MOVING IT BACK. YOU KNOW, IT'S ALMOST LIKE PRISON LABOR.

HOST: SOUNDS FUN.

BUT EVEN CONFIDENCE, I GUESS I HAVE GROWN SOME CONFIDENCE IN THAT I HAVE COME TO IDENTIFY WITH WHAT I DO. SO, IT SEEMS LIKE A NATURAL THING TO DO.

HOST: YOU TALK ABOUT CONFIDENCE. I READ SOMEWHERE IN A PUBLISHED INTERVIEW THAT AS PART OF YOUR EDUCATION, OR MAYBE AFTER YOUR EDUCATION, PURSUING YOUR POETRY YOU MOVED TO SAN FRANCISCO AND WORKED IN A POETRY RELATED JOB.

I DID.

HOST: COLLECTED POET --

THERE ARE A LOT OF POETRY RELATED JOBS, BUT I WAS THE OFFICE MANAGER FOR THE POETRY CENTER AT SAN FRANCISCO STATE.

HOST: ABOUT THAT JOB, YOU SAID YOU CAME IN CONTACT WITH A LOT OF THE POET SCENE FOLKS THERE.

RIGHT.

HOST: AND YOU WERE AMAZED BY HOW MUCH CONFIDENCE THEY HAD, HOW LITTLE THEY FELT A NEED TO EXAMINE OR SELF-CRITIQUE THEIR WORK. AND THAT MADE AN IMPRESSION ON YOU, DIDN'T IT?

WELL, THE POETS THAT I WAS MEETING IN SAN FRANCISCO WERE VERY URBAN WRITERS. SO, THEY WERE MUCH MORE CULTIVATED IN THE SENSE OF URBAN INTELLIGENCES, THE CLASH OF URBAN INTELLIGENCES. AND I WAS REALLY USED TO JUST READING AND WRITING. I DIDN'T REALLY UNDERSTAND THERE WAS A DISCOURSE AROUND IT. AND I WAS A LITTLE INTIMIDATED BY THAT AT FIRST. BUT IT KIND OF -- ALSO, IT GOT MY ARKANSAS UP.

HOST: YEAH. YOU SAID YOUR DOWN HOME WAYS, YOU HAD TO SHARPEN THEM, WHICH IS NOT THE REACTION A LOT OF PEOPLE -- A LOT OF PEOPLE WANT TO ASSIMILATE WHEN YOU GET IN A SITUATION LIKE THAT.

I WAS VERY PROUD OF WHERE I WAS FROM. I THOUGHT IT WAS A VERY DISTINCTIVE PLACE AND I CAME TO REALIZE THAT THE MORE I MOVED AROUND THE COUNTRY, TO CITIES AND EVEN OUT OF THE COUNTRY, THE MORE I THOUGHT I DID COME FROM A VERY DISTINCTIVE PLACE AND THAT I WAS PROUD OF THAT. SO, I CARRIED IT WITH ME. I NEVER FELT LIKE I HAD TO JETTISON THAT IN ORDER TO TAKE ON OTHER KINDS OF THINGS SUCH AS THE CITY.

HOST: STILL HAPPY WITH THAT DECISION?

I AM.

HOST: YOU THINK THAT'S THE RIGHT THING TO DO?

I DO.

HOST: IT'S SERVED YOU.

IT HAS SERVED ME. MANY OF MY BOOKS HAVE STILL BEEN CENTERED IN THE SOUTH, ESPECIALLY -- WELL, NOT THE NEXT TO LAST ONE, BUT THIS ONE, ESPECIALLY THIS ONE REALLY IS IN ARKANSAS.

HOST: YOU'VE WRITTEN -- AND I WISH I HAD WRITTEN DOWN THE EXACT QUOTE, THE FUNCTION OF POETRY IS SOMEHOW TO DEFINE THINGS OR NOTIONS OR TRUTHS WITHIN YOURSELF AND POETRY IS A WAY  TO MAKE THAT FREE. I DIDN'T QUITE UNDERSTAND THAT. COULD YOU EXPAND ON THAT A LITTLE BIT?

POETRY, I ALWAYS THOUGHT YOU HAD TO READ A LOT OF SOMETHING IN ORDER TO UNDERSTAND -- A LOT OF MAYBE A SINGLE POET EVEN OR A LOT OF POETRY IN ORDER TO UNDERSTAND THE LANGUAGE THAT POETRY IS TRYING TO SPEAK. VERNACULAR WAS ONCE COMMON TO ALL MEN. SO, IT'S NOT THAT IT'S A SPECIAL LANGUAGE, BUT IT IS A HIGHLY ARTICULATED AND REFLECTIVE LANGUAGE. AND I THINK THE FURTHER IN YOU GO, THE MORE LIBERATED YOU ARE BY THE CONSTRAINTS OF THE BANALITIES OF LIFE AND THEN THE CONSTRAINTS OF THE CONVENTIONS OF LIFE, WHICH OF COURSE, I STILL EXPERIENCE. I LIVE IN THE WORLD, BUT THAT INTERIOR WORLD IS QUITE LIBERATING, ESPECIALLY IF YOU TREAT IT AS SOMETHING THAT'S ACTUALLY WORTHY OF A LIFELONG INQUIRY.

HOST: SO WORDS AND IMAGES HAVE THE POWER TO TAKE YOU BEYOND THE BANALITIES AND UNLOCK THAT WHICH IS A LITTLE MORE ETERNAL MAYBE.

I DO. I THINK SO, YES.

HOST: I THINK YOU KIND OF -- FROM WHAT I READ -- TAKE PRIDE IN BEING AN OUTSIDER, HAVING OUTSIDER STATUS, AND YOU HAVE FROM THE START IN YOUR CAREER.

WELL, I HAVE, BUT IT'S HARD TO CLAIM IT MUCH ANY MORE, YOU KNOW.

HOST: EVERYONE WANTS TO BE AN OUTSIDER.

YEAH, THERE IS A KIND OF BADGE OF PRIDE IN BEING AN OUTLIER. BUT IT'S HARD TO TEACH AT A RESEARCH UNIVERSITY FOR 20 SOMETHING YEARS AND PUBLISH A DOZEN BOOKS AND BLAH, BLAH, BLAH AND CALL YOURSELF A RENEGADE.

HOST: YOU HAVE TO READ THE -- THAT'S THE WAY YOU DECIDE. THAT'S  SORT OF A NORTH ARKANSAS THING YOU SAID BEFORE. HARRISON PEOPLE WEREN'T JOINERS IN MOST CASES. THEY LIKE --

OZARK PEOPLE.

HOST: OZARK PEOPLE, YEAH.

MOUNTAIN PEOPLE.

HOST: WHAT ELSE ABOUT MOUNTAIN PEOPLE STICKS WITH YOU, WHAT SORT OF INFORMED THINGS YOU DO?

I REMEMBER A DESCRIPTION WHICH I THOUGHT WAS BY HARDY, WHICH I FOUND IN -- AND I NEVER HAVE BEEN ABLE TO FIND THAT PASSAGE AGAIN. I THOUGHT IT WAS IN THE WPA GUIDE TO THE STATE, WHICH I ALWAYS LIKED THOSE GUIDES AND I THOUGHT ARKANSAS'S WAS AN EXCEPTIONALLY GOOD ONE.

HOST: THE WORKS PROGRESS --

GUIDE TO THE STATE. IT WAS A DESCRIPTION OF ARKANSANS WHICH WAS MEANT TO BE A DESCRIPTION OF YEOMANRY OF PEASANT CLASS IN HARDY'S TIME THAT WE DIDN'T -- DIDN'T SMILE, COULDN'T SING, DIDN'T LIKE TO FIGHT, AND NOT UNLESS CORNERED, AND THEN TO THE DEATH. I STARTED IDENTIFYING WITH THAT.

HOST: OKAY. YOU CAN SEE SOME OF THAT, I GUESS. THAT'S PRETTY STRAIGHTFORWARD, YEAH.

IT'S A STUBBORN CULTURE. IT HAS BEEN ASSIMILATED INTO THE LARGER CULTURE, OF COURSE, NOW.

HOST: SURE. BUT THOSE THINGS YOU ALWAYS ATTRIBUTE TO MOUNTAIN PEOPLE, YOU LIVE IN THE SAME COVE ALL YOUR LIFE, YOU HOLD GRUDGES, YOU KNOW, NOTHING EVER DIES IF YOU DO SOMETHING WRONG, NO ONE EVER FORGETS. DO YOU THINK THAT'S BEING ASSIMILATED IN A WAY AS WELL?

I DO.

HOST: TALKING ABOUT THE WPA AND ARKANSAS, MIGHT BE A GOOD TIME TO BRING UP ONE OF YOUR WORK I THINK IS TERRIFIC, THE LOST ROADS PROJECT. THIS IS A UNIQUE PROJECT THAT YOU SORT OF SPEARHEAD AND HAD DID SO MUCH OF THE WORK ON. EXCEPT FOR THE PHOTOGRAPHY, I GUESS ALL THE WORK. TELL US HOW THIS CAME ABOUT AND WHAT IS THE RELATIONSHIP TO THE OLD WORKS PROJECT?

THAT WAS MY TEMPLATE, THE WPA FOR THAT. BECAUSE I ALWAYS THOUGHT I WAS BORN TOO LATE TO WORK -- I WAS BORN TOO LATE TO WORK FOR THE WPA. I THOUGHT I HAD TO START MY OWN WPA. I HAD A BIG GRANT FROM THE WALLACE FOUNDATION FROM NEW YORK. PART OF THAT GRANT WAS A SOCIAL PROJECT, AND IT CAME -- YOU COULD CREATE A BUDGET FOR THAT PROJECT AND IT WOULD SUPPORT THE PROJECT AS WELL AS YOU DURING THE TIME YOU'RE WORKING ON IT. SO, I ENLISTED A NUMBER OF AURA AT THIS TIMEVS, ALMOST ALL OF THEM WERE FROM ARKANSAS EXCEPT FOR THE PRINTER WHO PRINTED THE BROADSIDES, WHO WAS A MASTER PRINTER AT BROWN. THE PHOTOGRAPHER WAS FROM SILOAM SPRINGS, DEBORAH LUSTER, I STILL WORK WITH HER. ED NICHOLSON ENGINEERED THE SOUND FOR RADIO. RICHARD JOHNSON CREATED A SOUND TRACK FOR THE EXHIBITION SPACE. HE'S FROM EL DORADO. ED NICHOLSON WAS FROM HARRISON. MY HUSBAND IS FROM VIRGINIA, BUT HE DID THE VIDEOTAPING OF ARKANSANS RECITING POEMS. MIKE LUSTER WHO IS FOLK LORIST INTERVIEWED POST WORLD WAR I WRITERS.

HOST: THIS IS KIND OF A WOMAN PEND YUM, A GUIDE TO ARKANSAS CULTURE AND WRITERS OF NOTE?

RIGHT.

HOST: SOME OF THEM FEATURING BITS OF THEIR WORK, BIOGRAPHY.

IT'S A STORY OF ARKANSAS THROUGH LETTERS, YEAH. IT REALLY WAS ONE OF MY FINEST MOMENTS. I THOUGHT CATHY THOMPSON, A VISUAL ARTIST FROM FAYETTEVILLE DID BANNERS FOR IT. THAT STARTED FROM EUREKA SPRINGS BUILT A LIBRARY TABLE. IT MOVED AROUND THE STATE FOR A COUPLE OF YEARS, AND VARIOUS PLACES HAD DIFFERENT KINDS OF PROGRAMMING TO GO WITH THE EXHIBITION.

HOST: AND REALLY WONDERFUL -- THIS MAP WE'RE LOOKING AT, READERS MAP OF ARKANSAS IS A PRODUCT OF THAT.

THAT'S RIGHT. THAT'S SORT OF A BIBLIOGRAPHY, WRITERS FROM THE DE SOTO CHRONICLES TO THE MID '90s.

HOST: AND YOU'VE GOT -- SON SEALS TO DEE BROWN, ROBERT PALMER, MILLER WILLIAMS. IT'S A GREAT DIVERSITY, GREAT CROSS-SECTION. IT'S NOT COMPLETE, OF COURSE. I'M SURE IT WAS NOT MEANT TO BE COMPLETE. NEVER WOULD HAVE BEEN -- COULD NOT BE.

RIGHT.

HOST: VERY INTERESTING.

IT WAS A BLAST. DEE BROWN DID THE OPENING REMARKS. IT OPENED AT THE OLD STATE HOUSE.

HOST: WHAT WAS THE BIGGEST DISCOVERY YOU MADE THROUGH ALL THIS, SORT OF PLOWING THROUGH ARKANSAS WRITING OR THE MOST SURPRISING THING?

WELL, THERE WAS A POET, HORATIO, WHO WAS QUITE EXTRAORDINARY. SO, I KEPT HEARING ABOUT HER. AND FINALLY, I FOUND A BOOK OF HERS IN A LIBRARY IN HOT SPRINGS . AND THEN I COULDN'T FIND A PHONE NUMBER FOR HER, SO, I CALLED THE POSTMASTER IN HORATIO WHO SAID NOAH BRIGHAM DID LIVIN' DEED IN THE COUNTRY, SHE DIDN'T HAVE A PHONE, BUT SHE WOULD SEND A MESSAGE BY HER RURAL CARRIER. SO, I WENT TO HORATIO WITH MY SMALL CREW AND WE INTERVIEWED BESMILR AND INCLUDED HER IN THE BOOK. AND THEN I WENT BACK SIX MONTHS LATER WITH A FILM CREW FROM NEW YORK, AND THAT WAS A BIG THING. I MEAN, I WAS ADDED ONTO THAT IN PART TO GET THEM TO BESMILR. SO, THAT WAS LIKE TWO BIG FILM TRUCKS AND RIDER TRUCKS BEHIND IT AND GO-FOR CARS BEHIND IT COMING TO THOR  -- HORATIO TO FILM BESMILR BRIGHAM.

HOST: HOW DID YOU FIND OUT ABOUT HER?

I WAS MOVING THROUGH THE STATE LOOKING FOR WRITERS. HER NAME WOULD COME UP. HAVE YOU SEEN THIS PERSON'S WORK? HAVE YOU MET HER? AND THEN WHEN I READ THE BOOK THAT RANDOM HOUSE HAD DONE, I JUST KNEW THIS WAS THE REAL ORIGINAL.

HOST: IS THIS BOOK STILL AVAILABLE AS FAR AS WE KNOW?

THE EXHIBITION CATALOG AND THE MAP, TOO, YES, I THINK THEY'RE STILL AVAILABLE. UNIVERSITY OF ARKANSAS --

HOST: YOU DID FIND IT, VERY GOOD. LET'S GO ON TO YOUR LATEST BOOK, WHICH IS JUST RIGHT NOW COMING OUT AS WE SPEAK. ONE WITH OTHERS, ALL ABOUT EAST ARKANSAS. AND THIS PERSON WE REFER TO -- I SHOULD SAY WE'RE TALKING ABOUT C.D. WRIGHT, THE POET FROM HARRISON. AND EARLIER IN THIS CONVERSATION, YOU SAID THERE WAS SOMEONE THAT HAD A TREMENDOUS EFFECT ON YOU, WHO WAS I ASSUME AS THE CENTRAL CHARACTER.

YES, THIS STARTED OUT JUST TO BE AN OLMAGE FROM MY FRIEND FROM KENTUCKY. SHE EVENTUALLY ENDED UP IN NEW YORK CITY, WHICH WAS PROBABLY THE FIRST PLACE SHE EVER LIVED WHERE SHE WASN'T A FREAK. SHE GOT INVOLVED IN SOME CIVIL RIGHTS ACTIONS IN THE LATE '60s WHEN THE TOWN WAS KIND OF A POWDER KEG. AND SHE PAID THE PRICE. SHE WASN'T THE ONLY PERSON TO PAY THE PRICE, BUT SHE WAS THE ONLY WHITE PERSON TO PAY THE PRICE, SHE AND HER FAMILY. SO, THE MORE I WENT BACK TO THIS TOWN TO TALK TO PEOPLE ABOUT HER, THE MORE INTERESTED I GOT IN THE THINGS THAT WERE GOING ON THEN. AND I FELT LIKE EVEN THOUGH I WAS, YOU KNOW, A WHITE WOMAN FROM THE OZARKS, THAT I COULD -- I HAD A FOOTNOTE TO ADD TO ALL THE WONDERFUL LITERATURE ABOUT CIVIL RIGHTS WHICH HAS BEEN QUITE THOROUGHLY DOCUMENTED IN MANY WAYS. BUT THERE ARE STILL MANY FOOTNOTES TO BE ADDED.

HOST: HOW MUCH TIME DID YOU SPEND TO THAT PART OF ARKANSAS FOR THIS PROJECT SPECIFICALLY?

I DON'T KNOW. I THINK I WENT BACK THERE FOUR TIMES TO THAT TOWN.

HOST: THERE'S A LOT OF DETAIL, AND DETAIL IS ESSENTIAL TO THE STORY TELLING, TO THE POET. EVEN THE BIRDS AND THE BUSHES AND THE PLANTS AND THE YARDS AND THE DITCHES. WHY ARE DETAILS SO IMPORTANT IN POETRY? WHAT DOES IT DO, HOW DOES IT BUILD UP A POEM?

WELL, I THINK ANY KIND OF WRITING, IT'S ALL MADE OF THE PARTICULARS, YOU KNOW, THOSE SHINING PARTICULARS THAT MAKES SOMETHING POP OUT AT YOU. AND I'VE ALWAYS LIKED THE VEGETATION OF ARKANSAS AND I'VE ALWAYS LIKED THE BIRDS, AND ESPECIALLY THE TREES. THE TREES OF ARKANSAS. I THINK THOSE WHO -- I THINK THOSE LOCATE YOU VERY PHYSICALLY LOCATE YOU IN SOMETHING, AND ONCE YOU ARE PHYSICALLY LOCATED, AT LEAST FOR ME ONCE I'M VERY PHYSICALLY LOCATED, THEN I CAN GO SOMEWHERE IN MY MIND AND IN MY IMAGINATION.

HOST: IT WORKS FOR THE READER, TOO, BECAUSE ALL THOSE DETAILS REALLY MAKE ALL THESE HORRIFYING INCIDENTS SEEM THAT MUCH MORE VIVID, THAT MUCH MORE REAL. YOU KNOW, THE WORDS CHOSEN HERE, IT'S PAINFUL TO RELIVE THE THINGS FOR THE PEOPLE WHO WENT THROUGH IT ALL.

SOME PEOPLE JUST REALLY WOULDN'T TALK ABOUT IT.

HOST: UNDERSTANDABLY.

AND -- BUT SOME PEOPLE WERE REALLY QUITE EAGER TO TALK, YOU KNOW, BECAUSE IT WAS LIKE SOMEONE WAS -- I MEAN, VALIDATING THE EXPERIENCE, SOMEONE FROM THE OUTSIDE WHO WAS COMING THROUGH THERE YEARS LATER. AND FROM MY FRIEND, WHENEVER I WOULD TALK TO HER ABOUT IT, SHE WAS ALWAYS -- LIKED TALKING ABOUT IT BECAUSE FOR HER IT WAS, AS SHE SAID, THE MOST ALIVE SHE EVER FELT.

HOST: TAKING ACTION WAS THE BIG -- IT'S A TURNING POINT IN THE BOOK ALMOST. IT'S A HISTORY, IT'S A POEM, AND IT'S JUST ALL SORTS OF WORDS AND SENTENCES AND THINGS THAT SEEM JUST LIKE CUT LINES FOR PHOTOGRAPHS AND NEWS STORIES AND THINGS LIKE THAT. VERY CAREFUL VERSE MIXED IN THERE AS WELL. I MEAN, IT'S KIND OF OUT THERE.

YEAH, THERE ARE A LOT OF DIFFERENT WAYS TO GO ABOUT WRITING. AND POETRY IS NOT NECESSARILY WHAT POETRY WAS, YOU KNOW. I MEAN, THE ONLY REASON POETRY HAS SURVIVED IS BECAUSE IT'S SO MUTABLE.

HOST: CHANGING, THINGS LIKE THAT. DO YOU THINK YOU'VE -- I MEAN, TO ME IT'S UNLIKE ANYTHING I'VE SEEN EXACTLY BEFORE. DO YOU THINK THIS IS LIKE -- I'VE GOT IT NOW. THIS IS MY STYLE? DO YOU WANT TO MOVE ON TO SOMETHING ELSE? BECAUSE LIKE YOU SAID, YOU'VE GOT TO CHANGE.

IT'S USUALLY WHATEVER I'M WORKING ON THAT DICTATES HOW -- IT DOESN'T DICTATE IT. IT IS REVEALED TO ME GRADUALLY HOW I'M GOING TO APPROACH IT IN THE PROCESS OF READING ABOUT IT AND GOING SOMEPLACE AND THINKING ABOUT IT, WATCHING FILMS RELATED, LISTENING TO MUSIC FROM THAT PART OF THE WORLD. USUALLY I JUST SORT OF -- YOU KNOW, IT'S AN INFUSION OF MATERIAL BEFORE I START SIFTING MY WAY AND SORTING MY WAY AND PICKING MY WAY THROUGH AND FINDING A FORM THAT SUPPORTS WHAT I THINK I HAVE TO SAY, BASED ON WHAT I THINK I SEE.

HOST: ARE YOU HAPPY WITH THE RESULT OF THIS LATEST BOOK HERE?

I WAS VERY FRUSTRATED WORKING ON TI WAS SO FRUSTRATED I THOUGHT IT HAD STALLED OUT ON ME. AND THEN WHEN I -- ACTUALLY, WHEN I GOT A COPY OF IT AND I READ MY FOOTNOTES, I THOUGHT, OKAY. [LAUGHTER]

HOST: GOOD.

OKAY.

HOST: YEAH. BUT IS THAT COMMON? YOU MENTIONED THIS EARLIER, TOO, THAT IT'S A STRUGGLE.

IT'S A STRUGGLE.

HOST: IT'S NOT EASY. THAT'S THE WAY IT'S SUPPOSED TO BE. IF WRITING IS GOOD, YOU'RE GOING TO HAVE TO TOIL A LITTLE BIT.

THERE ARE SOME PROJECTS THAT HAVE COME EASIER THAN THIS ONE DID. THERE WAS ONE BOOK CALLED DEEP STEP COME SHINING, WHICH WAS MY JOY TO WRITE. AND IT HAD THAT FEELING OF WRITING ITSELF, AND IT'S A VERY STRANGE BOOK, TOO.

HOST: WHAT IS IT ABOUT?

IT'S ABOUT SEEING, IT'S ABOUT VISION AND PHYSICAL VISION AND SPIRITUAL VISION AND ARTISTIC VISION. AND IT'S A ROAD BOOK. I WROTE IT TAKING A TRIP, A ROAD TRIP WITH MY FRIEND DEBORAH LUSTER, THE PHOTOGRAPHER, VISITING OUTSIDER ARTIST IN NORTH AND SOUTH CAROLINA AND NORTHERN GEORGIA, ENDING UP AT PARADISE GARDEN, HOWARD FINCHER'S PARADISE GARDEN IN NORTHERN GEORGIA. IT WAS FUN. IT WAS MY ONLY JOYOUS BOOK, BECAUSE I HAVE A CRITICAL INTELLIGENCE MORE THAN I DO  A CELEBRATING ONE. MOST WERE MUCH HARDER.

HOST: I UNDERSTAND. WE ASK OUR GUESTS IF THEY'LL SUBMIT TO IT TO DO A LITTLE READING FOR US. YOU'VE AGREED TO DO IT TODAY.

SURE.

HOST: WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO READ?

I THINK I'LL READ SOMETHING FROM RISING, FALLING, HOVERING.

HOST: THE BOOK --

THE BOOK ONE WITH OTHERS. THIS BOOK WAS ABOUT DOMESTIC LIFE AND ALSO A LOT OF IT WAS ABOUT THE SECOND GULF WAR AND ABOUT MEXICO.

HOST: OKAY. AND I'LL READ A POEM CALLED "LIKE HEARING YOUR NAME CALLED IN A LANGUAGE YOU DON'T UNDERSTAND." SINCE THE DAY THE BELL WAS CAST, I HAVE SAT IN THE BISHOP'S CARVED CHAIR AND WAITED MY TURN. WITH MY FEET CROSSED AT THE ANKLES, AND THE LEATHER OF MY HUARACHES CUTTING INTO THE HIDE OF MY FOOT, FROM WHERE I WAS SITTING I WATCHED THE LIGHT BEING DRAWN OFF THE MAGNOLIAS IN THE PLAZA DE AERTION MASSR --  PLAZA DE ARMAS. AS IT FACES OF STRANGERS ACKNOWLEDGED THEIR OWN LOSSES. I SAW THE WHITE TROUSERS OF THE VEND R FLAPPING IN THE DUST, HIS BODY ENGULFED IN BALLOONS. THE SHOESHINE BOY PUTTING AWAY HIS BRUSHES, THE SUM OF HIS INHERITANCE. I HAVE READ WHAT WAS WRITTEN THERE, SAID GRACIAS, AND SAT DOWN AGAIN. I HAVE CLIMBED THE PYRAMIDAL STEPS AND WINDED AND FELT HUMBLED. I'VE STOOD SMALL, ALONGSIDE THE PARIAH CONSUL IN THE CELEBRATED BOOK. IN EVERY SENSE HAVE I FELT LONELIER THAN A CLOD OF CLAY, A WHIP, A BULSA, A SKULL OF CHOCOLATE. I HAVE BEEN LURED BY MY HOST'S PELLUCID FACE AND THE BLUE SALVIA WHERE THE ROOSTER IS BIRD. THOUGH I HAVE WORN THE MEDAL OF THE OLD TOWN WITH FORLORN PLEASURE, I SAY TO YOU: COMRADES, BE NOT IN MOURNING FOR YOUR BEING, TO EXPRESS HAPPINESS AND EXPEL SCORPIONS IN THE BEST JOB ON EARTH.

HOST: THE MOST RECENT BOOK ONE WITH OTHERS, AND ONE WITH OTHERS SOUNDS AND PROBABLY READS A LITTLE DIFFERENTLY THAN THE PEOPLE WHO WILL READ THIS TONIGHT AS WE TAKE WHAT WE'LL FIND OUT AND IS CHANGING. YOU SAID POETRY HAS TO CHANGE IN ORDER TO SURVIVE. WHAT ARE THE CHANGES THAT ARE COMING UP IN YOUR WORK AND IN POETRY IN GENERAL? WHERE DO YOU SEE IT GOING?

WELL, IT'S ALWAYS THE NEXT GENERATION THAT IS MAKING -- YOU KNOW, ENSURING THAT THE TORCH IS CARRIED. I SEE FILM POEMS NOW. I SEE ANIMATED POEMS. ONE OF MY POEMS WAS ANIMATED FOR PUBLIC TRANSIT SYSTEMS. AND THE ANIMATION WAS DONE BY STUDENTS AT AN ART PROGRAM IN MILWAUKEE. SO, I SEE A LOT MORE COLLABORATIVE WORK GOING ON. FORMALLY, I SEE POETRY GOING IN EVERY CONCEIVABLE DIRECTION, SO, THERE'S REALLY BARELY RECOGNIZABLE AS POETRY. IT BECOMES KIND OF THE DEFAULT GENRE FOR EXPERIMENTAL WORKS THAT NO OTHER GENRE WILL CLAIM.

HOST: IS IT GOOD, IS THAT A GOOD THING?

YES, I THINK IT'S GOOD, YEAH. IT'S GOOD. IT'S A BIG LANDSCAPE. IT'S A BIG CATCHALL. YEAH, I THINK IT'S GOOD. I MEAN, IT'S AMAZINGLY HOW HEALTHY POETRY IS.

HOST: C.D. WRIGHT, ORIGINALLY FROM HARRISON, ARK A, ACTUALLY ORIGINALLY FROM MOUNTAIN HOME AND FOR ALL OF YOUR ACCLAIM AND ALL YOUR GREAT WORK, THANK YOU SO MUCH.

THANK YOU.

HOST: WE LOOK FORWARD TO WHAT'S COMING UP NEXT. AND WHAT IS COMING UP NEXT?

ACTUALLY, I'M HOPING TO DO A MULTI-MEDIA PROJECT ON VIC CHESTNUT WHO WAS A RECORDING ARTIST FROM ATHENS, GEORGIA, TO WORK WITH THE MUSICIANS AND PAINTERS. SO, I DON'T KNOW HOW LONG THAT WILL TAKE OR EVEN IF IT WILL FINALLY COME TO PASS, BUT THAT'S WHAT I'D LIKE TO DO.

HOST: KEEP OUR EYE OUT FOR IT. THANKS AGAIN. C.D. WRIGHT AND ON THE SAME PAGE.

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