Summer is one of the happiest seasons at Tweetspeak Poetry, because it is the season of Take Your Poet to Work Day (or, you know, to the beach). It’s one thing to start every day with a poem (we recommend it). But how great would it be to start your day with a poet? On Take Your Poet to Work Day, we encourage people around the world to take their favorite poet to work for the day.
Take Your Poet to Work Day is coming July 17, 2019
To help you play and celebrate with us, we’re releasing poets each week in a compact, convenient format you can tuck in your pocket, tool belt, or lunchbox.
We started our celebration five years ago with Sara Teasdale, Pablo Neruda, T. S. Eliot, Rumi, Edgar Allan Poe, and the reclusive Emily Dickinson (for folks who work at home).
We even released a full collection, The Haiku Masters: Matsuo Basho, Yosa Buson, and Kobayashi Issa.
In 2014, we added Langston Hughes, Adrienne Rich, John Keats, William Butler Yeats, Christina Rossetti and the beloved 20th-century American poet, Sylvia Plath.
In 2015, we introduced the Bard of Avon William Shakespeare, beloved poet Maya Angelou, and iconic American poet Robert Frost, Russian poet Anna Akhmatova, Polish poet Wisława Szymborska, and America’s poet, Walt Whitman.
In 2016, English Romantic poet William Wordsworth, joined in, along with Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Irish poet Seamus Heaney, and English poet and novelist Emily Brontë, Australian poet and activist Judith Wright, and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.
Because you can never have too many poets in your lunch box (or your desk drawer), we also do a school-year celebration in April—Take Your Poet to School Week—with some favorites for the younger (and younger-at-heart) poetry readers: Shel Silverstein, Ogden Nash, Robert Louis Stevenson and the always delightful Mother Goose.
Last year, in 2018, we introduced Jorge Luis Borges, Rosalía de Castro, Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, and Rosario Castellanos.
Today, meet C.D. Wright.
Take Your Poet to Work: C.D. Wright
C.D. Wright (1949-2016), author of more than 20 books of poetry, was born in Mountain Home, Arkansas, the youngest of two children and daughter of a chancery judge and court stenographer. She studied at law school before leaving for an MFA at the University of Arkansas.
Her first poetry collection, Room Rented By A Single Woman, was published by poet Frank Stanford through his press Lost Roads Publishers. When he died, she took over being the publisher and added translated collections. She held the position for 30 years.
In 1979 Wright moved to San Francisco, where she met poet Forrest Gander, whom she would later marry; they had a son, Brecht Wright Gander. They eventually settled in Providence, Rhode Island and C.D. became the Israel J. Kapstein Professor of Literary Arts at Brown University, where she held the position for 33 years.
Wright wrote both short poems and long—including multiple book-length poems such as Just Whistle and Deepstep Come Shining, in collaboration with her friend, photographer Deborah Luster.
Wright didn’t belong to a particular school of poetry, and she was proud of her outsider status, crediting her noncomformity to growing up in the Ozarks. From southern-lyric to documentary, her poetry used constraint as topic, and dealt with race relations and incarceration, with an emphasis shifting from place to form. Wright said, “my work reflects a hybridity of structure and genre.” One With Others [a little book of her days] which mixed investigative journalism, history, and poetry, won the National Book Critics Circle Award and the Lenore Marshall Prize, as well as being a finalist for the National Book Award.
She said: “It is a function of poetry to locate those zones inside us that would be free, and declare them so.” Wright died on January 12, 2016, at the age of 67, passing away peacefully in her sleep.
Obscurity and Velocity
Asleep in her chair, but
dreaming, heedless that she was
driving past the unfenced fields
in which constantly shifting greens
flowed in one direction; she was picking
up speed, leaning forward when something
in the background, something in partial shadow
snagged a tine of her attention, scanning stations; her foot
kept accelerating toward that gouged out mountain, or else
—C. D. Wright
Get your own C.D. Wright — Take Your Poet to Work Printable that you can print, color, and cut out for the big day.
Illustrations by Will Willingham.
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Laura Lynn Brown says
Her work is amazing. I know who I’m putting on my stick this year.
Megan Willome says
Naomi Shihab Nye has a poem about her in the new collection “Voices in the Air.” The poem is called “C.D. Stepped Out.”
“I believe words are golden as goodness is golden. Even the humble word brush gives off a scratch of light.”
C.D. stepped out into the the dark.
Didn’t tell anyone she was going–
she just left.
Some of us thought she was inside
in the bathroom on the second floor,
so we waited for her.
Some of us thought she was in the backyard
on a metal chair, listening.
Dark Street, MacDougal at Houston–
old furniture piled on sidewalks–
rooms of light in ancient brick buildings–
somehow she had inhabited every one
of those rooms one time or another.
She heard the twining chorus of accents,
carried them with her, rolling in her cells,
heard the roll and clash of citizens,
layerings of rooms draped with old India print,
Japanese kimono cloth, some rustic basket weave of
It was time, enough of this talk,
I heard you all, heard you better
than you heard me maybe, never mind, we’ll catch up
I just had to go.
–Naomi Shihab Nye
Monica Sharman says
I’m about to read Voices in the Air! First I’ll finish A Maze Me, which is a book of poems for girls ages 12 and up — so I’ll fit nicely into the “and up,” I guess. It’s very good.
Megan Willome says
Monica, I know about that one, but haven’t read it yet.
Debra Hale-Shelton says
I had not seen this poem so thank you for sharing it. I began attending an annual C.D. Wright Women Writers Conference in 2017 and recently read her book, One With Others. She was such a gifted writer and isn’t known nearly well enough.