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One With Others: [a little book of her days] Paperback – April 12, 2011
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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."
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top customer reviews
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. Law enforcement responds by arresting the children, driving them around in trucks for a day while threatening their lives, draining the whites-only pool and holding them there at gunpoint for three days. The Negros of Big Tree become suddenly visible and remain that way for some time.
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