Charles Wright (poet)

Charles Wright (born August 25, 1935) is an American poet. He shared the National Book Award in 1983 for Country Music: Selected Early Poems[1] and won the Pulitzer Prize in 1998 for Black Zodiac.[2] From 2014 to 2015, he served as the 50th Poet Laureate of the United States.[3]

Charles Wright
Charles wright 5953.jpg
Born (1935-08-25) August 25, 1935 (age 85)
Pickwick Dam, Tennessee
EducationDavidson College
Iowa Writers' Workshop
Notable awardsPulitzer Prize for poetry;
National Book Award for Poetry

Early life and educationEdit

Wright was born in Pickwick Dam, Tennessee. Wright attended Christ School (North Carolina) in Asheville for his junior and senior years where he helped coach football, served as vice president of his class, and became a member of the honors program.[citation needed] While at Christ School, he enveloped himself in the literature that would inspire him to write. By the time he graduated in 1953 he had read everything William Faulkner had written. He then matriculated at Davidson College and graduated with a BA in history in 1957.[4] He received a master's degree from the University of Iowa in 1963,[4] and attended the University of Iowa Writers' Workshop. He was a Fulbright Scholar at the Sapienza University of Rome[4] and at the University of Padua.

Teaching careerEdit

From 1966 to 1983, he taught at the University of California, Irvine.[4] Fellow Colleagues poets Robert Peters and James L. McMichael and novelist Oakley Hall shared during this time directorship of the university's well-known Master of Fine Arts program.[5] He went to the University of Virginia in 1983, where he stayed until he retired in 2010.[4]

He was a Chancellor of The Academy of American Poets and Souder Family Professor of English at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville.


Wright began writing poetry while stationed in Italy during his army service, from 1957 to 1961, in the United States Army Intelligence Corps in Verona.[6][4] On June 12, 2014, the Library of Congress announced that Wright would serve as Poet Laureate of the United States beginning on September 25, 2014.[7] He retired from the position in May 2015.[8]


Beside the award-winning books Country Music (1982) and Black Zodiac (1997), Wright has published Chickamauga, Buffalo Yoga, Negative Blue, Appalachia, The World of the Ten Thousand Things: Poems 1980-1990, Zone Journals and Hard Freight. His work also appears in Blackbird: an online journal of literature and the arts.

Wright has published two works of criticism, Halflife and Quarter Notes.


His translation of Eugenio Montale's The Storm and Other Poems won him the PEN Translation Prize in 1979. In 1993, he received the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize for his lifetime achievement. In 1996 he won the Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize from the Academy of American Poets for the collection Chickamauga (1995).[4] Black Zodiac (1997) won him the National Book Critics Circle Award and the 1998 Pulitzer Prize.[4]


  • Oblivion Banjo: The Poetry of Charles Wright, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2019.[6]
  • Caribou, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2014.
  • Bye-and-Bye: Selected Late Poems Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2012. — winner of the 2013 Bollingen Prize
  • Outtakes Sarabande, 2010.
  • Sestets Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2009.
  • Littlefoot Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2007.[1]
  • Scar Tissue Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2006. — winner of the 2007 International Griffin Poetry Prize
  • The Wrong End of the Rainbow Sarabande, 2005.
  • Buffalo Yoga Farrar, Straux & Giroux, 2004.
  • A Short History of the Shadow Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2002.
  • Negative Blue Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2000.
  • North American Bear Sutton Hoo, 1999.
  • Appalachia Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1998.
  • Black Zodiac Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1997. —winner of the 1998 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry[2]
  • Chickamauga Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1995. —finalist, 1996 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry[2]
  • Quarter Notes (improvisations and interviews) U of Michigan Press, 1995.
  • The World of the Ten Thousand Things. Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1990.
  • Xionia Windhover Press, 1990.
  • Zone Journals Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1988.
  • Halflife (improvisations and interviews) U of Michigan Press, 1988.
  • The Other Side of the River. Random House 1984. —finalist, 1985 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry[2]
  • Orphic Songs. Dino Campana (translations) Field Editions, 1984.
  • Country Music: Selected Early Poems (Wesleyan University Press, 1982) —shared the National Book Award for Poetry with Galway Kinnell, Selected Poems;[1] finalist, 1983 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry[2]
  • The Southern Cross Random House, 1981. —finalist, 1982 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry[2]
  • The Storm and Other Things Eugenio Montale (translations) Field Editions, 1978.
  • China Trace Wesleyan University Press, 1977.
  • Bloodlines Wesleyan University Press, 1975.
  • Hard Freight Wesleyan University Press, 1973.[6]
  • The Venice Notebook Barn Dream Press, 1971.
  • The Grave of the Right Hand Wesleyan University Press, 1970.
  • The Dream Animal House of Anansi Press, 1968.

Further readingEdit

  • Schuessler, Jennifer (June 12, 2014). "Charles Wright named America's Poet Laureate". The New York Times.
  • Galgano, Andrea. "Il viaggio inciso di Charles Wright". Frontiera di Pagine., now in Frontiera di Pagine II, Aracne, Roma 2017, pp. 615-632 ISBN 8825501617


External media
  "Charles Wright Reads Selected Sestets and Other Poems" The New York Review of Books, 10 December 2009
  Charles Wright, Lannan Center for Poetics and Social Practice, March 26, 2013
  1. ^ a b "National Book Awards – 1983". National Book Foundation. Retrieved 2012-04-07.
    (With essay by Eric Smith from the Awards 60-year anniversary blog.)
  2. ^ a b c d e f "Poetry". Past winners & finalists by category. The Pulitzer Prizes. Retrieved 2012-04-07.
  3. ^ "Poets Laureate of the United States".
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h "Charles Wright | Biography, Poetry, & Facts". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 2019-11-06.
  5. ^ "Association of Writers & Writing Programs".
  6. ^ a b c Chiasson, Dan (2019-11-04). "The Many Voices of Charles Wright". The New Yorker. ISSN 0028-792X. Retrieved 2019-11-06.
  7. ^ Lily Rothman (June 12, 2014). "New Poet Laureate Charles Wright: Who Is He?".
  8. ^ Charles, Ron (May 1, 2015). "A pair of U.S. poets laureate for the price of one". The Washington Post. Retrieved March 3, 2016.

External linksEdit

External linksEdit