One Big Self: An Investigation

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Copper Canyon Press, 2007 - Poetry - 80 pages

"Wright has found a way to wed fragments of an iconic America to a luminously strange idiom, eerie as a tin whistle, which she uses to evoke the haunted quality of our carnal existence."--The New Yorker

Inspired by numerous visits inside Louisiana state prisons--where MacArthur Fellow C.D. Wright served as a "factotum" for a portrait photographer--One Big Self bears witness to incarcerated men and women and speaks to the psychic toll of protracted time passed in constricted space. It is a riveting mosaic of distinct voices, epistolary pieces, elements from a moralistic board game, road signage, prison data, inmate correspondence, and "counts" of things--from baby's teeth to chigger bites:

Count your folding money
Count the times you said you wouldn't go back
Count your debts
Count the roaches when the light comes on
Count your kids after the housefire

One Big Self--originally published as a large-format limited edition that featured photographs and text--was selected by The New York Times and The Village Voice as a notable book of the year. This edition features the poem exclusively.

C.D. Wright is the author of ten books of poetry, including several collaborations with photographer Deborah Luster. She is a professor at Brown University.


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User Review  - rmckeown - LibraryThing

I met C.D. Wright at the recent Beall Poetry Festival at Baylor University. I bought this book because Copper Canyon Press published it, and they maintain high quality in the printing and selection of ... Read full review

One Big Self: An Investigation

User Review  - Not Available - Book Verdict

When photographer Deborah Luster toured prisons in Louisiana to photograph the inmates, poet Wright (Steal Away: Selected and New Poems ) tagged along to provide a textual record of the experience ... Read full review

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About the author (2007)

C.D. Wright, a Professor of English at Brown University, is the author of eleven books of poetry, as well as several collaborative works with photographer Deborah Luster, most recently One Big Self: Prisoners of Louisiana. She has earned fellowships from the MacArthur and Guggenheim foundations, and is the recipient of a Lannan Literary Award. She lives in Rhode Island.

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