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Steal Away: Selected and New Poems [Hardcover]

C.D. Wright
3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
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Book Description

May 1 2002

C.D. Wright is a fearless poet long admired for her authentically erotic verse. With a Southern accent and cinematic eye she couples strangeness with uncanny accuracy, bundling fragments of stories to create poems that are, as she describes them, "succinct novels." Wright’s poems are simultaneously modern and deeply primal; they arepheromonal.

Gathering work from her eight previous volumes,Steal Awayweaves new work with Wright’s best lyrics, narratives, prose poems, and odes.

You didn’t know my weariness, error, incapacity,
I was the poet
of shadow work and towns with quarter-inch
phone books, of failed
roadside zoos. The poet of yard eggs and
sharpening shops,
jobs at the weapons plant and the Maybelline
factory on the penitentiary road.
—from "Our Dust"

"Wright shrinks back from nothing."—Voice Literary Supplement

"Wright is one of America’s oddest, best, and most appealing poets."—Publishers Weekly

"C.D. Wright’s best new poems are defiant, erotic, and disjunctive, easy to be moved by, hard to assemble, and like nothing else being made today."—Boston Phoenix

C.D. Wrightwas born and raised in the Ozark Mountains of Arkansas. She has published nine collections of poetry, served as State Poet of Rhode Island, and earned many awards, including a Lannan Literary Award and a Guggenheim Fellowship. She teaches at Brown University and is presently at work on a poetry-and-photographic documentary of Louisiana prisoners.

Also Available by C.D. Wright
Deepstep Come Shining
TP $14.00, 1-55659-092-X • CUSA
TC $22.00, 1-55659-093-8 • CUSA


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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

Raised in remote Arkansas, Wright fell in when quite young with the charismatic and legendary poet Frank Stanford, whose neosurrealist techniques and sudden death inform her earliest work, included in this seventh full-length book, her first selected. Soon, however, Wright had many other forms and models from Adrienne Rich to Edmond Jabes, from philosophical investigations to yearbook signatures and personal ads. Together and separately, these techniques produced the striking power and variety of String Light (1991), which declared Wright "the poet/ of shadow work and towns with quarter-inch/ phone books," "of yard eggs and/ sharpening shops" and of sex and female physicality, for whom "the body would open its legs like a book." Tremble (1996) confirmed these strengths and added a durable visionary dimension: "As surely as there are crumbs on the lips/ of the blind," one poem began, "I came for a reason." This collection draws liberally on those volumes, as well as the book-length Southern travelogue-cum-prose-poem Deepstep Come Shining (1998), and adds new sets of short poems. Some derive from Mexican retablos (folk-art altarpieces), which they imagine in strenuous, broken-up lines; a final series considers, and sometimes addresses, the incarcerated: "I too love. Faces. Hands. The circumference/ Of the oaks. I confess. To nothing/ You could use. In a court of law." Multicultural (with a Southern orientation) and experimental, challenging and immediately appealing, Wright has a core of fans but could have many more: this book's careful selection from a strong body of work should ensure that they find her.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

In her tenth volume, Wright proves herself to be one of the most complex, fascinating, and ultimately rewarding American poets writing today. Over a 20-year period, she chronicles her journey from a poor Deep South childhood (in an essay, she once compared Arkansas to South Africa) to respected New England professor, from "a girl on the stairs [who] listens to her father/ beat up her mother" (from her 1982 collection, Translating the Gospel Back into Tongues) to the strong and empowering "girl friend" poems new in this collection. Always distinguishing between I and Thou, she identifies with the victim without becoming victimized herself. Even in the sadomasochistic prose poems of Just Whistle (1993), the body takes on a distinct and defiant life of its own, an Other standing apart from the narrator. For her, it seems a natural step from Southern down-home dialect (at least as her writer's ear perceived it) to the experiments with nonsyntactical language that put her in the forefront of experimental poetry. Not only do her poems explore uncharted ground in both subject and form, each new volume seems to take new risks. If this book has any pitfalls, it's that there's not enough space to include more poems from each volume. Highly recommended. Rochelle Ratner, formerly with "Soho Weekly News," New York
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

Customer Reviews

3.5 out of 5 stars
3.5 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
Format:Hardcover
When I first read this book, I was not familiar with Wright's work. The eroticism of her works are sandwiched and juxtaposted by a syntax that pushes language and body out into an open space. The "Girlfriend" poems are particular telling of this mixing and distorting of syntax of English and the syntaxx of the body. Admittedly, this book is not for everyone; but poetry never is. If you enjoy sensual poets like Diane Di Prima or intensely intellectual poets like John Ashberry, Bin Ranke, and Wallace Stevens; Wright's words will surely speak to you. Their is a diversity of culture and of technique, but a unity of vision that any poet can benefit from. I can only wish more poets were like her.
Was this review helpful to you?
3.0 out of 5 stars intriguing and limited July 26 2003
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
Wright is a poet brave enough to trust and follow the meanderings of her mind and the results are often amazing for several lines at a time, but rarely for a whole poem. She has a great eye and pulls of some stunning visual description, but to put it politely, there isn't much of an intellect backing up these special effects and too many of the poems come out mushy and sentimental. The work is lazy, but she does have a wry off-handed sense of humor that often rescues the work from banality.
Was this review helpful to you?
1.0 out of 5 stars Poet Laureate of Laziness Oct. 24 2003
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
Wright's aesthetic is one of self-congratulatory linguistic and philosophical laziness. Most of her poems look like they were tossed off in five minutes and never revised, which is why her work is a favorite of the "post-post" club. Except for a handful of good prose poems and certain parts of Deepstep Come Shining (Wright's only even halfway good book, of which too little is included in this collected), these poems are downright pointless and boring.
Was this review helpful to you?
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the finest June 11 2004
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
Wright's work is unceasingly fresh and visionary. I never tire of reading her work. She is truly one of the best poets pushing a pen in America. Keep on!
Was this review helpful to you?
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 3.8 out of 5 stars  5 reviews
15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent overview of an important, challenging poet Feb. 27 2003
By C. D. Varn - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
When I first read this book, I was not familiar with Wright's work. The eroticism of her works are sandwiched and juxtaposted by a syntax that pushes language and body out into an open space. The "Girlfriend" poems are particular telling of this mixing and distorting of syntax of English and the syntax of the body. Admittedly, this book is not for everyone; but poetry never is. If you enjoy sensual poets like Diane Di Prima or intensely intellectual poets like John Ashberry, Bin Ranke, and Wallace Stevens: Wright's words will surely speak to you. There is a diversity of culture and of technique, but a unity of vision that any poet can benefit from. I can only wish more poets were like her.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Banquet July 27 2007
By K. Douglas Anderson - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
If you're looking for a book to hang out with for the whole summer Steal Away is the one. It presents a range of Wright's work, from her early lyrics to impassioned formal experimentation. Wright stands at the place where rivers meet in contemporary poetry. She is both bighearted and fierce. I would dare say she is the one holding the light.
7 of 14 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars intriguing and limited July 26 2003
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Wright is a poet brave enough to trust and follow the meanderings of her mind and the results are often amazing for several lines at a time, but rarely for a whole poem. She has a great eye and pulls of some stunning visual description, but to put it politely, there isn't much of an intellect backing up these special effects and too many of the poems come out mushy and sentimental. The work is lazy, but she does have a wry off-handed sense of humor that often rescues the work from banality.
4 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the finest June 11 2004
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Wright's work is unceasingly fresh and visionary. I never tire of reading her work. She is truly one of the best poets pushing a pen in America. Keep on!
5 of 18 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Poet Laureate of Laziness Oct. 24 2003
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Wright's aesthetic is one of self-congratulatory linguistic and philosophical laziness. Most of her poems look like they were tossed off in five minutes and never revised, which is why her work is a favorite of the "post-post" club. Except for a handful of good prose poems and certain parts of Deepstep Come Shining (Wright's only even halfway good book, of which too little is included in this collected), these poems are downright pointless and boring.
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