Photo: Bob Mical
The news of C. D. Wright’s sudden passing on January 12 shocked and saddened the poetry world. The countless readers, colleagues, students, and friends who have been touched by her life and work continue to mourn this loss. Poet Laynie Browne offers this lyric essay and poem in tribute. —The editors
Before the unthinkable news of your passing, I was meditating on your enviable title, Translation of the Gospel Back into Tongues. I was searching for a title for a new work and decided to begin a book dedicated to you, with a title in homage to yours. This was mid-December. I had gained some early momentum and was thinking of writing to you. By the tenth of January I was telling a friend about the project and composing a letter to you in my head.
Your title Translation of the Gospel Back into Tongues recalls poetry as primal, a language before conventions of language, a transmission that concerns itself with accessing the inexplicable. We, the reader, may find comfort in recovering lost passages, clear reckonings in verse. We don’t know how to return to a world speaking in tongues. We struggle to find authentic language before it is effaced, stripped, or covered over with fruitless effort. Yet your...