“The poet Muriel Rukeyser famously asked and answered, ‘What would happen if a woman told the truth about her life? The world would split open.’ C. D.’s poems are rooted in that kind of radical, revelatory authenticity. And her deep belief in people, this human project, and poetry, was resolute,” so said Academy of American Poets Executive Director Jennifer Benka in her introduction to A Tribute to C. D. Wright, held at the City University of New York Graduate Center on October 19, 2016.
On January 12, 2016, the award-winning poet C. D. Wright died unexpectedly in her sleep, at the age of sixty-seven. At the time, Wright was serving on the Academy of American Poets’ esteemed Board of Chancellors.
On October 19, Lee Ann Brown, Peter Cole, Mónica de la Torre, Brecht Gander, Brenda Hillman, Ben Lerner, Deborah Luster, Frances Mayes, Jane Miller, Michael Ondaatje, Brenda Shaughnessy, Arthur Sze, Jean Valentine, Anne Waldman, and Michael Wiegers came together to share a favorite poem by Wright and say a few words about their time with, and memories of, the poet. The event, which also featured musical performances by Richard Leo Johnson and Toni Hall and a dance performance by Eiko, was cosponsored by the 92nd Street Y, the Academy of American Poets, the Center for the Humanities at the Graduate Center at CUNY, Copper Canyon Press, Poets House, and the New York University Creative Writing Program.
Watch the video of the full tribute below and read the rest of Benka’s introduction. Read more about Wright and her poems on our C. D. Wright tribute page, on Poets.org.