Cooling Time: An American Poetry Vigil by C.D. Wright

The following is an excerpt from Cooling Time: An American Poetry Vigil by C.D. Wright, published by Copper Canyon Press in February.

I believe in a hardheaded art, an unremitting, unrepentant practice of one's own faith in the word in one's own obstinate terms. I believe the word was made good from the start; it remains so to this second. I believe words are golden as goodness is golden. Even the humble word brush gives off a scratch of light. There is not much poetry from which I feel barred, whether it is arcane or open in the extreme. I attempt to run the gamut because I am pulled by the extremes. I believe the word used wrongly distorts the world. I hold to hard distinctions of right and wrong. Also I think the antithetical poetries can and should coexist without crippling one another. They not only serve to define their other to a much more exacting degree than would be possible in the absence of the one or the other; they insure the persistence of heterogeneous (albeit discouragingly small) constituencies. While I am not always equal to it, I appreciate the fray. I am neither too old for it nor too finished off. I am not sure of where it is I am going. Important, I believe, to resist finality in one's own work while assiduously working toward its completeness. Detrimental, I think, the dread of being passed on the left, as is the deluded and furthermore trivializing notion of one's own work being an advance over any thing or any one. Truthfulness is crucial. A continuous self-criticism is demanded of the effort without which only non-art gets made, that is, manufactured. "A poet would show little thought to say poetry is opposed to since it is added to like science," insisted Zukofksy. So do I, insist. Consequently I would contest those writers whose end if (reviling-all-the-way) to prevail.

Provisionally yours,


From Cooling Time: An American Poetry Vigil by C.D. Wright. Copyright (c) 2005 C.D. Wright. Courtesy of Copper Canyon Press.