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Cooling Time: An American Poetry Vigilby C. D. Wright
Synopses & Reviews
C. D. Wright takes her title from a line of legal defense, peculiar to Texas courts, in which it is held that if a man kills before having had time “to cool” after receiving an injury or an insult he is not guilty of murder.
Cooling Time is a new type of book, an unruly vigil that is an interconnected memoir-poem-essay about contemporary American poetry. Ever focused on possibilities, Wright demonstrates that “the search for models becomes a search for alternatives,” and thereby defines the terms by which poets can chart their own course.
These are some of the things I have touched in my life that are forbidden: paintings behind velvet ropes, electric fencing, a vault in an office, gun in a drawer, my brother’s folding money, the poet’s anus, the black holes in his heart—where his life went out of him.
Tell me, what is the long stretch of road for if not to sort out the reasons why we are here and why we do what we do, from why we are not in the other lane doing what others do.
Poetry is like food remarked one of my first teachers, freeing me to dislike Rocky Mountain Oysters and Robert Lowell. The menu is vast, the list of things I don’t want in my mouth relatively short.
C.D. Wright, author of nine books of poetry, teaches at Brown University. She lives in Providence, Rhode Island, with poet Forrest Gander.
"A determined and idiosyncratic book of critical thoughts — and not a 'poet's memoir' la Nick Flynn or Katy Lederer — Wright's latest offers criticism, speculation, and personal recollection, most of it divided into self-sufficient prose units, from one sentence to several pages in length. Though she teaches at Brown University in Rhode Island, Wright, who won a MacArthur genius grant this year, hails from the Ozarks, as both her matter and manner often remind us: 'I poetry... I also arkansas,' she writes; 'sometimes these verbs coalesce. Sometimes they trot off in opposite directions.' Though some paragraphs, many of which are culled from previously published essays, offer sharply remembered scenes, Wright (Steal Away) focuses less on the major events in her life than on the writers whose work has mattered to her, some famous (Gertrude Stein), some not (Besmilr Brigham). Readers in the know will decode information about Wright's poet-partner Forrest Gander. The longest memoiristic passage concerns an English teacher; another pokes fun at American poets' habit of joining rival schools, and another describes a car trip through the American Southeast, with its 'Landscape of big dogs, big melons, big-car longings and dreams big as distant capitals.' Readers who seek not autobiography but cogent thoughts, ideas, quotable claims about the state of the art (or about the state of Arkansas) will find themselves delighted." Publishers Weekly (Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information, Inc.)
Two decades of articles and interviews compressed into an unruly vigil that seeks "leverage in the wreckage."
Poetry. Memoir. An unruly paean to American poetry, COOLING TIME blurs the divisions between poem, memoir, and essay, while borrowing regularly from the peculiarities and backwaters of the American idiom. The book's title derives from a legal line of defense, unique to Texas courts: if a person kills someone before having had time "to cool" after receiving an injury or an insult, he is not guilty of murder. Ever focused on possibilities, C. D. Wright, who was called "one of America's oddest, best, and most appealing poets" by Publishers Weekly and just received a MacArthur Fellowship, demonstrates that "the search for models becomes a search for alternatives." Filled with humor, eroticism, and a hypnotic fascination with language, COOLING TIME is a prickly love-letter to the life of poetry.
An unruly meditation on American poetry interconnects poetry, memoir, and essay.
About the Author
C.D. Wright, a Professor of English at Brown University, is the author of nine books of poetry, as well as several collaborative works with photographer Deborah Luster, most recently One Big Self: Prisoners of Louisiana. Wright edits Lost Roads Publishers with poet Forrest Gander and lives in Providence, Rhode Island.
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