There is black blood and white blood. There is black air and white air. And
this selfsame lie takes aim, even if by indirection, at the stifled lives of those
inflicting the harm, the lives of witting and of unwitting ignorance, and those
who must live among the stiflers, as if one of them, by all outward and visible
signs one of them, but on the reverse side of their skin lie awake in the scratchy
dark, burning to cross over. Not to become one of the harmed but to shed the
skin, you get my meaning, the tainted skin of the injuring party.
by C.D. Wright
© C.D. Wright and Copper Canyon Press, 2010.
This week’s poem is taken from the book One With Others [a little book of her days], and reprinted by permission of Copper Canyon Press.
Notes courtesy of Copper Canyon:
Investigative journalism is the poet’s realm when C.D. Wright returns to her native Arkansas and examines an explosive incident from the civil rights movement. Wright interweaves oral histories, hymns, lists, newspaper accounts, and personal memories—especially those of her incandescent mentor, Mrs. Vititow—with the voices of witnesses, neighbors, police, activists, and black students who were rounded up and detained in an empty public swimming pool. This history leaps howling off the page.
C.D. Wright has published twelve collections of poetry and prose. Reviewing her previous book, Rising, Falling, Hovering (Copper Canyon, 2008), The New York Times noted: ‘C.D. Wright belongs to a school of exactly one.’ Wright is currently the Israel J. Kapstein Professor of English at Brown University, and lives outside Providence, Rhode Island.
One With Others won the National Book Critics Circle Award and was a 2010 National Book Award Finalist. You can read a short interview with C.D. Wright here, learn more about her at this page, hear her discuss the book here, and hear her read parts of One With Others at this link.
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