In her poetry book, One Big Self, CD Wright explores her experiences visiting Louisiana prisons, including Angola, with a photographer friend. I heard Wright read from the book at an AWP conference nearly ten years ago – she was a stark contrast to the poet and Rumi translator, Coleman Barks, who gave a charismatic and jocular reading before her – and the paralyzing nature of her work prompted me to buy the book and read it almost immediately. The heartbreaking content within her sprawling, fragmented poems – reading lines like “See what I did was, I accidentally killed my brother” and “My mugshot turned me against being photographed” — makes reading these poems somewhat like realizing a few steps in that you’re walking across broken glass; there’s no way out except to keep going. I have a friend who sometimes says, “There are things you can’t un-see,” and I think his truism applies to One Big Self.
Lazy Afternoon Reruns: “You Go to Jail, I Go Ya’ Bond”