In 1926, David Wagoner was born in Massillon, Ohio. He is the author of numerous poetry collections, including Good Morning and Good Night (University of Illinois Press, 2005); The House of Song (University of Illinois Press, 2002); Traveling Light: Collected and New Poems (University of Illinois Press, 1999); Walt Whitman Bathing (University of Illinois Press, 1996); Through the Forest: New and Selected Poems (Atlantic Monthly Press, 1987); First Light (Little, Brown and Co., 1983); Landfall (Little, Brown and Co., 1981); and In Broken Country (Little, Brown and Co., 1979).
His Collected Poems, 1956-1976 (Indiana University Press, 1976) was nominated for the National Book Award in 1977. His collection Who Shall Be the Sun? (Indiana University Press, 1978) is a collection of poems based on the folklore, legends, and myths of indigenous peoples of the Northwest Coast and Plateau regions. Other collections of poetry include Sleeping in the Woods (Indiana University Press, 1974); Riverbed (Indiana University Press, 1972); New and Selected Poems (Indiana University Press, 1969); Staying Alive (Indiana University Press, 1966); The Nesting Ground (Indiana University Press, 1963); A Place to Stand (Indiana University Press, 1958); and Dry Sun, Dry Wind (Indiana University Press, 1953).
Wagoner is also the author of ten novels, including The Escape Artist (1965), which was adapted into a movie by Francis Ford Coppola. He is also the editor of Straw for the Fire: From the Notebooks of Theodore Roethke, 1943-63 (1972).
About Wagoner's poetry, critic Harold Bloom said, "His study of American nostalgia is as eloquent as that of James Wright, and like Wright's poetry carries on some of the deepest currents in American verse."
He received an American Academy of Arts and Letters award, the Sherwood Anderson Award, the Fels Prize, the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize, the Eunice Tjetjens Memorial and English-Speaking Union prizes from Poetry magazine, and fellowships from the Ford Foundation, the Guggenheim Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts.
A former Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets, he was the editor of Poetry Northwest from 1966 until its last issue in 2002. He died on December 18, 2021.