One with Others [a little book of her days]

       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.

Copper Canyon Press is a nonprofit publisher that believes poetry is vital to language and living. Since 1972, the Press has published poetry exclusively and has established an international reputation for its commitment to authors, editorial acumen, and dedication to the poetry audience. As the preeminent independent publisher of poetry, Copper Canyon Press fosters the work of emerging, established, and world-renowned poets for an expanding audience. Copper Canyon Press publishes new collections of poetry by both revered and emerging American poets, translations of classical and contemporary work from many of the world’s cultures, re-issues of out-of-print poetry classics, anthologies, and prose books about poetry. Click here to visit the Copper Canyon website.

Copyright information: please note that the copyrights of all the poems displayed on the website and sent out on the mailing list are held by the respective authors, translators or estates, and no work should be reproduced without first gaining permission from the individual publishers.


Aha, I find the late fourth century pope Damasus
Had seen to it that the tombs of martyrs

Were given fresh distinction by calligraphy.
With a calligraphy from his own pen old stones

Were incised by a mason selected not only
For his dexterity, also for his sympathies.

How different it is, that order of things,
From the reburial, pronto, of carving dismembered

By the constructors of emporia and office blocks
Over the sunken city in modern Mylasa—

What do the planners care about things Greek,
Ancient inscriptions or extended gods

Who still cling with touches of sunlight
To fluted stone scheduled for reburial?

If mind did not become a Mylasa, who’d recall
The crates of American rifles in summer 1940,

And how the girls and boys of freedom lift
Those greased guns from the crates in England,

Old grease, with rags wipe every vestige off,
Clots of grease hidden in the dark magazines?

Plain or grainy, the wooden rifle butt,
Polish it up until it glows

Fitting snug into your skinny shoulder—
An age before you knew what calligraphy was.

by Christopher Middleton

Copyright © Christopher Middleton, 2010. ‘Calligraphy’ is taken from the volume Poems 2006-2009 by Christopher Middleton, published by Shearsman Books, 2010. It is reprinted here by permission of Shearsman Books.

Notes courtesy of Shearsman Books:

Christopher Middleton was born in Truro, Cornwall, in 1926. He studied at Merton College, Oxford and then taught at the University of Zürich, at King’s College, London, and finally as Professor of Germanic Languages at the University of Texas, Austin. He has published translations of Robert Walser, Nietzsche, Hölderlin, Goethe and many contemporaries, receiving several awards, including the Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize and the Schegel-Tieck Translation Prize. His poems, essays and selected translations are all published in the UK by Carcanet Press; his poems are published in the USA by Sheep Meadow Press. His most recent publications are: Collected Poems (Carcanet, 2008), The Anti-Basilisk (poetry, Carcanet Press, 2005—published as Tankard’s Cat in the USA by Sheep Meadow), Of the Mortal Fire (poetry, Sheep Meadow, 2003), Crypto-Topographia (prose, Enitharmon Press, London, 2002), The Word Pavilion and Selected Poems (Carcanet / Sheep Meadow, 2001), Jackdaw Jiving: Selected Essays on Poetry and Translation (Carcanet, 1998), Faint Harps and Silver Voices: Selected Translations (Carcanet, 2000). Christopher Middleton lives in Austin, Texas. You can find out more about his latest work here, hear him read from his work at this page, and read other selections from Poems 2006-2009 (in pdf) here.

Shearsman Books is a very active publisher of new poetry, mostly from Britain and the USA, but also with an active translation list. You can learn more about the publisher here.

Copyright information: please note that the copyrights of all the poems displayed on the website and sent out on the mailing list are held by the respective authors, translators or estates, and no work should be reproduced without first gaining permission from the individual publishers.


Didn’t I stand there once,
white-knuckled, gripping the just-lit taper,
swearing I’d never go back?
And hadn’t you kissed the rain from my mouth?
And weren’t we gentle and awed and afraid,
knowing we’d stepped from the room of desire
into the further room of love?
And wasn’t it sacred, the sweetness
we licked from each other’s hands?
And were we not lovely, then, were we not
as lovely as thunder, and damp grass, and flame?

by Cecilia Woloch

From Carpathia, by Cecilia Woloch. Copyright © BOA Editions, Ltd., 2009. ‘Anniversary’ is reprinted by permission of BOA Editions.

Notes courtesy of BOA Editions:

Cecilia Woloch was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and grew up there and in rural Kentucky, one of seven children of a homemaker and an airplane mechanic. She attended Transylvania University in Lexington, Kentucky, earning degrees in English and Theater Arts, before moving to Los Angeles in 1979. She received her MFA in Creative Writing from Antioch University L.A. in 1999. A celebrated teacher, Ms. Woloch has conducted poetry workshops for thousands of children and young people throughout the United States and around the world, as well as workshops for professional writers, educators, participants in Elderhostel programs for senior citizens, inmates at a prison, and residents at a shelter for homeless women and their children. She is the founding director of Summer Poetry in Idyllwild and of The Paris Poetry Workshop, and is currently a lecturer in the creative writing program at the University of Southern California as well as a member of the core faculty of the low-residency MFA Program in Professional Writing at Western Connecticut State University.

Well-controlled eulogies to her dying father in rural Kentucky, lush lyric and prose poems to lovers and former-lovers in Paris and various Eastern European countries, and compelling anaphoric-based narratives that meander between innocence and experience, body and soul – these are the motifs in Cecilia Woloch’s stirring collection, Carpathia, from which ‘Anniversary’ is taken. You can find out more about Carpathia here, and more about Cecilia Woloch here.

BOA Editions, Ltd., a not-for-profit publisher of poetry and other literary works, fosters readership and appreciation of contemporary literature. By identifying, cultivating, and publishing both new and established poets and selecting authors of unique literary talent, BOA brings high quality literature to the public. Support for this effort comes from the sale of its publications, grant funding, and private donations. To find out more about BOA Editions, click here.

Copyright information: please note that the copyrights of all the poems displayed on the website and sent out on the mailing list are held by the respective authors, translators or estates, and no work should be reproduced without first gaining permission from the individual publishers.