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One with Others: [a little book of her days] Hardcover – October 1, 2010

4.3 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In 1969, a Tennessean known as "Sweet Willie Wine" led a small group of African-American men on a "walk against fear" through small-town Arkansas. This event grounds Wright's most recent blending of poetry and investigative journalism. A tribute to Wright's mentor--an autodidact, activist, and bourbon-swilling mother of eight, whose support for the march ("I would have followed Sweet Willie Wine into hell") made her "a disaffiliated member of her race"--the book probes the limits and intersections of the personal and the political. Wright intersperses descriptions of the Arkansas landscape; her own journey researching; transcriptions from V, her family, and others who experienced the events of that violent summer; lists of prices ("the only sure thing in those days"); the weather ("temperatures in the 90s even after a shower"), newspaper headlines; and personal memories. Through juxtaposition and repetition, she weaves a compelling, disturbing, and often beautiful tapestry that at once questions the ability of language to get at the complicated truth of history ("because the warp is everywhere"), and underscores the ethical imperative to try. As Wright learns from V, "To act, just to act. That was the glorious thing."
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From Booklist

Wright revisits her native Arkansas, during the 1960s, to pay homage to V, a friend and mentor. We learn in a percussively expressive mix of memories, testimonials, news, history, and ruminations that V was unhappily married, too often pregnant, forthright, flintily smart, and avidly literary. (“She had a brain like the Reading Room in the old British Museum.”) Much admired within her circle, bookish, card-playing, and bourbon-drinking V was an unlikely yet magnificent hero. MacArthur fellow Wright is known for her social consciousness and improvisational style, and she takes both qualities up a notch in this dramatically investigative and looping portrait of V, both in her prime––when she went against her overtly racist and staunchly segregationist neighbors to join a group of African Americans on a “Walk against Fear”—and in her long subsequent exile and martyrdom. Such hate, such sorrow, such valor. Wright’s sharply fractured, polyphonic, and suspenseful book-length poem is both a searing dissection of hate crimes and their malignant legacy and a lyric, droll, and fiery elegy to a woman of radiant resistance. --Donna Seaman
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Copper Canyon Press; y First printing edition (October 1, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1556593244
  • ISBN-13: 978-1556593246
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.9 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,393,324 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Marilyn Jaye Lewis on January 17, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I am astounded that there is only one review so far of this extraordinary book. What a use of language. What a beautiful book. The subject of the book, in and of itself, is of course a powerful thing to write about. But CD Wright's way with language, with imagery, with nailing behavior and fear and confusion and hatred and joy -- wow. She takes her subject matter and allows it to really transcend the things that have been said about racism before; or about courage and love, and about choosing to make one's life matter . This is such a beautiful book. If for any reason you are on the fence about buying it, you absolutely shouldn't hesitate. It's a treasure.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
You have your life
until you use it. You forfeit the only life you know
or go to your grave with the song curdled inside you. --C. D. Wright, in One with Others

I've been circling C.D. Wright for years, sensing that she might be a little too...taxing, aim a little too close to the major arteries. Now that I've read One with Others (2010, Copper Canyon Press), I see that I was right to be afraid.

This book-length poem is journalistic, but "aspires to the borrowed-tuxedo lining of fiction." It is narrative but not often chronological. "In the end," says Wright in her first stanza, "it is a welter of associations." This is too modest a claim. "One with Others" is the portrait of a woman (Wright calls her V), the place she found herself living, and the people she felt drawn to. Finally it's about the manner in which she gave her life away

In the summer of 1969, in the smallish, segregated Arkansas town Wright calls Big Tree, sixty-six percent of the population is Negro and "invisible." (Wright uses the rejected vocabulary of those years, with the exception of the "N-word," and by repetition renews its power to wound. She makes the states' defense of interposition and nullification sound like a particularly cruel means of execution.) Martin Luther King, Jr. has been dead for a year, and in this part of the country at least, as Wright so convincingly illustrates, "after they slew/ the dreamer" they "began to slay/ the dream." A teacher at the all-black junior high school is fired for writing a letter to the superintendent in which she complains that "the Negro has no voice," and black students march in protest to the white school.
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Format: Hardcover
A time in America where being a second class citizen was the law. "One with Others" are the reflections from CD Wright on the civil rights movement in Arkansas, and the role of her mentor in that chaotic time. Discussing her mentor through a combination of prose and poetry, C.D. Tells quite the insightful tale of a time of uncertainty where the retribution for standing up for oneself and your people could be meant with very dire consequences. "One with Others" is a fascinating read and not one to be overlooked.
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Format: Paperback
I'm no academic and, regrettably, can't often slow myself down enough to read poetry so forgive my lack of canonical grounding (or don't, it's up to you), but i have to say this is the most extraordinary thing I've ever read. The images are absolutely indelible -- women with pregnant bellies playing bridge and sipping bourbon at the same time, black teenagers penned in an empty swimming pool with guns pointed at them. And the form is something I've never encountered, neither conventional poetry nor conventional narrative. Short, compact, perfect. And, for those of us who are normal nine-to-fivers, living outside the literary milieu -- blessedly accessible. Understandable. Real. The little "Dear Abby" excerpts are a perfect example. They remind you how snappy and "buck-up-sister" our advice columnists were back in the day, as opposed to today's deep psychologizing. But they also remind you of the suffocating "don't stand up...don't stand out" values of the period which resulted in the cultural explosions of the late 60s and 70s. This is a great book.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
If you have only room for one book of poetry this year; this should be the one. It is beautiful, painful, sad and a small triumph about a human being who was willing to pay the price to attempt to redeem a part of her community. For those who want to know what segregation meant in Arkansas when Bill Clinton was away at college reader this book and ponder.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
An exceptional work, beautifully written, demands rereading, thought provoking, intelligent, asks the reader to in fact be a reader. Highly recommend this to lovers of poetry, good writing, and those who lived the Civil Rights Movement or want to know what transpired during that time more intimately.
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