David Wojahn

b. 1953
Ever since his first collection, Icehouse Lights, was chosen for the Yale Series of Younger Poets award in 1981, David Wojahn has been one of American poetry’s most thoughtful examiners of culture and memory. His work often investigates how history plays out in the lives of individuals, and poet Tom Sleigh says that his poems “meld the political and personal in a way that is unparalleled by any living American poet.”

His collection Interrogation Palace: New and Selected Poems 1982–2004 (2006), which Peter Campion called “superb” and “panoramic” in a review for Poetry, showcases Wojahn’s formal range, the scope of his personal narratives, and his intense, imaginative monologues and character sketches, such as his sonnets on pop culture icons and rock-and-roll musicians in Mystery Train (1990). He is also celebrated for the emotional resonance of his poetry—the ability to, in the words of poet Jean Valentine, “follow . . . tragedy to its grave depths, with dignity and unsparingness, and egolessness.”

In addition to his books of poetry, Wojahn is the author of a collection of essays on contemporary poetry, Strange Good Fortune (2001), co-editor of A Profile of Twentieth Century American Poetry (1991), and editor of a posthumous collection of his wife Lynda Hull’s poetry, The Only World (1995).

He has received fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, the Illinois Arts Council, and the Indiana Arts Commission. He teaches poetry at Virginia Commonwealth University.

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POET’S REGION U.S., Mid-Atlantic

LIFE SPAN 1953–

Biography

Ever since his first collection, Icehouse Lights, was chosen for the Yale Series of Younger Poets award in 1981, David Wojahn has been one of American poetry’s most thoughtful examiners of culture and memory. His work often investigates how history plays out in the lives of individuals, and poet Tom Sleigh says that his poems “meld the political and personal in a way that is unparalleled by any living American poet.”

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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