Charles Wright is the Next U.S. Poet Laureate
June 16, 2014
Appointed in mid-June by the Library of Congress, Charles Wright, widely considered one of America’s greatest living poets and recipient of numerous honors, will become the twentieth “Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry.” His term, succeeding current Laureate Natasha Trethewey, will begin with a reading at the Library of Congress on September 25. Wright is the author of twenty-four collections of poetry—his accolades include many of the most prestigious awards in the field of poetry: a Pulitzer Prize and National Book Critics Circle Award (both awarded for his 1997 collection Black Zodiac), the National Book Award, the Bollingen Prize, Canada’s Griffin Poetry Prize, and the Ruth Lilly Prize from the Poetry Foundation.
“For almost fifty years his poems have reckoned with what he calls ‘language, landscape, and the idea of God,’” said James H. Billington, Librarian of Congress, in his announcement of the new appointment. “Wright’s body of work combines a Southern sensibility with an allusive expansiveness, for moments of singular musicality.”
Born in Tennessee in 1935, Wright is a resident of Charlottesville, Virginia, and had taught for many years at the University of California, Irvine, and the University of Virginia.
“[He] is a master of the meditative, image-driven lyric,” said Billington.
Interviews and audio & video clips are available of Charles Wright’s various appearances with PBS NewsHour.
Photo by Dan Addison