by Max Brantley
C.D. Wright, beloved prize-winning poet and writing professor at Brown University, unexpectedly passed away in her home on January 12, 2016. Her most recent book had just been published. The cause of death is yet to be determined.
Born in Mountain Home, Arkansas, in 1949, Wright attended Memphis State University and the University of Arkansas. The Southern landscape became a source of inspiration for her writing, including the critically-acclaimed collection, One With Others (Copper Canyon Press, 2010), which won the Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize, the National Book Critics Circle Award, and was finalist for the National Book Award.
Known for a signature styling of journalistic investigation, hybrid language, collaborations, and sharp wordplay, Wright’s writing captured the depths of emotion while engaging in redefining literary activism. She was also fiercely committed to poetry, and wrote: “I poetry. I write it, study it, read it, edit it, publish it, teach it… Sometimes I weary of it. I could not live without it. Not in this world. Not in my lifetime.”
C.D. Wright’s contributions to the writing community were vast and powerful: she was a Guggenheim Fellow, a MacArthur Fellow, a Whiting Award winner, and a Lannan Literary Award recipient. In 2013, Wright was elected a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets. Anne Waldman praised her selection, saying: “Brilliantly astute, generous, witty, panoramic, celebratory, C.D. Wright is one of our most fearless writers, possessed with an urgency that pierces through the darkness of our time.”