Wright, Gander to highlight Poetry Night on Oct. 1

Release Date: 9/17/2013

University of the Ozarks will offer a night of poetry readings on Tuesday, Oct. 1, featuring three nationally renowned poets, including Arkansas native C.D. Wright and her husband, Forrest Gander.

The event, which is part of the University's Walton Arts & Ideas Series, will begin at 6:30 p.m. in Rowntree Recital Hall, in the University's Walton Fine Arts building. The public is invited to attend and there is no cost for admission.

The featured poets will be the Rhode Island couple of Wright and Gander as well as Louisiana poet Jack Heflin.

Wright, a native of Mountain Home, Ark., is a professor of literary arts at Brown University in Rhode Island. She has published over a dozen books, including "Rising, Falling, Hovering (2008);" "Like Something Flying Backwards: New and Selected Poems (2007);" and a text edition of "One Big Self: An Investigation (2003)," a project she undertook with photographer Deborah Luster to document Louisiana inmates. She has also published several book-length poems, including the critically acclaimed "Deepstep Come Shining (1998)." Her most recent book, "One With Others (2010)," mixes investigative journalism, history and poetry to explore homegrown civil rights incidents and the critical role her mentor, a brilliant and difficult woman, played in a little known 1969 March Against Fear in her native Arkansas.

Wright's writing has been described as experimental, Southern, socially conscious, and elliptical. As poet and critic Joel Brouwer asserts, "Wright belongs to a school of exactly one," and Wright herself has pointed out the contradictions inherent in her work: "I'm country but sophisticated. I'm particular and concrete, but I'm probing another plane. . . . There are many times when I want to hammer the head. Other times I want to sleep on the hammer."

Though her work is deeply connected to the Ozarks, Wright spent significant periods in New York and San Francisco before moving in 1983 to Rhode Island. With her husband, Forrest Gander, she founded and ran Lost Roads Press for more than 20 years. Among her honors are a MacArthur Fellowship, a Lannan Literary Award, a Robert Creeley Award, and membership in the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. In 2013, she was elected as a chancellor of the Academy of American Poets.

"Poetry is a necessity of life," Wright has said. "It is a function of poetry to locate those zones inside us that would be free, and declare them so."

Born in California's Mojave Desert, Gander grew up in Virginia and attended the College of William & Mary, where he majored in geology. After receiving an MA in literature from San Francisco State University, Gander moved to Mexico, then to Arkansas, where his poetry—informed by his knowledge of geology—turned its attention to landscape as foreground or source of action.  Gander's books of poetry include "Eye Against Eye (2005)," "Torn Awake (2001)," and "Science & Steepleflower (1998)."  Though primarily a poet, Gander is also a translator, novelist, essayist, and the editor of two anthologies.

Heflin, a professor of English at the University of Louisiana in Monroe, recently published his second book, "Local Hope," a critically acclaimed collection of 43 poems.  Heflin's first collection, "The Map of Leaving," won the Montana First Book Award. His poems have appeared in many journals, including The Antioch Review, Poetry Northwest, Nimrod, Willow Springs, the Missouri Review, Green Mountains Review and Poetry East, and in several anthologies.