Craig Morgan Teicher on C. D. Wright’s One Big Self: An Investigation
Craig Morgan Teicher
One Big Self:
by C. D. Wright
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In the post–James Frey world, there is much debate about where to draw the line between nonfiction and fiction. The essential argument concerns literature’s responsibility to the facts: Can a memoir engage in a degree of imagining in the service of telling an emotional truth? Is an autobiographical novel really a memoir trying to pass as a work of fiction? And what of poetry, a genre in which fact and fantasy commingle? C. D. Wright’s One Big Self—the poetic half of her collaboration with photographer Deborah Luster (the photographic version was published as a limited edition in 2003)—attempts some answers.
Wright and Luster visited three Louisiana state prisons in order to “unequivocally lay out the real feel of hard time,” each in her own medium. Wright’ s interviews with male and female inmates serve as
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