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About this poet

Born on August 25, 1935, in Pickwick Dam, Tennessee, Charles Wright was educated at Davidson College and the University of Iowa Writers' Workshop. He began to read and write poetry while stationed in Italy during his four years of service in the U.S. Army, and published his first collection of poems, The Grave of the Right Hand (Wesleyan University Press), in 1970. His second and third collections, Hard Freight (1973) and Country Music: Selected Early Poems (1983), were both nominated for National Book Awards; the latter received the prize.

Since then, Wright has published numerous collections of poems, most recently Caribou (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2014); Bye-and-Bye: Selected Late Poems (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2011); Outtakes (Sarabande, 2010); Sestets: Poems (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2009); Littlefoot: A Poem (2008); Scar Tissue (2007), which was the international winner for the Griffin Poetry Prize; The Wrong End of the Rainbow (Sarabande, 2005); Buffalo Yoga (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2004); Negative Blue (2000); Appalachia (1998); Black Zodiac (1997), which won the Pulitzer Prize and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize; Chickamauga (1995), which won the 1996 Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize from the Academy of American Poets; The World of the Ten Thousand Things: Poems 1980-1990 (1990); and Zone Journals (1988).

Wright has also written two volumes of criticism: Halflife (1988) and Quarter Notes (1995) and has translated the work of Dino Campana in Orphic Songs (Oberlin College Press, 1984) as well as Eugenio Montale's The Storm and Other Poems (1978), which was awarded the PEN Translation Prize.

He taught at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville as the Souder Family Professor of English. His many honors include the 2013 Bollingen Prize, the American Academy of Arts and Letters Award of Merit Medal, and the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize. In 1999 he was elected a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets and served until 2002. In 2014, he was appointed United States Poet Laureate. 


Selected Bibliography

Poetry

Caribou (Farrar, Straus, & Giroux, 2014)
Bye-and-Bye: Selected Late Poems (Farrar, Straus, & Giroux, 2012)
Sestets (Farrar, Straus, & Giroux, 2009)
Littlefoot ((Farrar, Straus, & Giroux, 2007)
Scar Tissue (Farrar, Straus, & Giroux, 2006)
Buffalo Yoga (Farrar, Straus, & Giroux, (Farrar, Straus, & Giroux, 2004)
A Short History of the Shadow (Farrar, Straus, & Giroux, 2002)
Negative Blue: Selected Later Poems (Farrar, Straus, & Giroux, 2000)
Appalachia (Farrar, Straus, & Giroux, 1998)
Black Zodiac (Farrar, Straus, & Giroux, 1997)
Chickamauga (Farrar, Straus, & Giroux, 1995)
The World of Ten Thousand Things: Poems, 1980-1990 (Farrar, Straus, & Giroux, 1990)
Country Music: Selected Early Poems (Wesleyan University Press, 1982)

Words and the Diminution of All Things

Charles Wright, 1935

The brief secrets are still here,
                            and the light has come back. 
The word remember touches my hand,
But I shake it off and watch the turkey buzzards bank and wheel
Against the occluded sky.
All of the little names sink down,
                            weighted with what is invisible,
But no one will utter them, no one will smooth their rumpled hair. 

There isn't much time, in any case.
There isn't much left to talk about
                            as the year deflates.
There isn't a lot to add.
Road-worn, December-colored, they cluster like unattractive angels
Wherever a thing appears,
Crisp and unspoken, unspeakable
                            in their mute and glittering garb.

All afternoon the clouds have been sliding toward us
                                      out of the
      Blue Ridge.
All afternoon the leaves have scuttled
Across the sidewalk and driveway, clicking their clattery claws.
And now the evening is over us,
Small slices of silence
                  running under a dark rain,
Wrapped in a larger.

From Buffalo Yoga by Charles Wright. Copyright © 2004 by Charles Wright. Reprinted by permission of Farrar, Straus and Giroux. All rights reserved.

From Buffalo Yoga by Charles Wright. Copyright © 2004 by Charles Wright. Reprinted by permission of Farrar, Straus and Giroux. All rights reserved.

Charles Wright

Charles Wright

Born in 1935, Charles Wright is the author of several books of poetry and has received the Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize and the Pulitzer Prize

by this poet

poem
East of me, west of me, full summer.
How deeper than elsewhere the dusk is in your own yard.
Birds fly back and forth across the lawn
                                         looking for home
As night drifts up like a little boat.

Day after day, I become of less use to myself.
Like this mockingbird
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