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The Poetry of New U.S. Poet Laureate Charles Wright

By Harriet Staff
Joe Parisi, John Ashbery, Charles Wright

Charles Wright (right) with John Ashbery (center) and Joe Parisi (left), 1992

Later today the Library of Congress will name Charles Wright as the 20th United States Poet Laureate.

First appearing in Poetry magazine in September 1969, Wright has been a frequent contributor to the magazine over the past decades.

“Charles Wright is a superb choice,” says Robert Polito, President of the Poetry Foundation. “He’s long been one of my favorite poets. His work, while rooted in a vivid sense of place, crosses all borders — geographic, aesthetic, and cultural. Charles is modest, but brilliant, an essential contemporary metaphysical poet. I can’t wait to see what his projects and initiatives will be. He follows a truly extraordinary Poet Laureate, Natasha Trethewey, whose signature series with PBS, “Where Poetry Lives,” was as inspired as it was inspirational. Everyone at the Poetry Foundation congratulates Charles and looks forward to working with him.”


After being awarded the Ruth Lilly Poetry prize in 1993, Wright went on to receive a Pulitzer and a Griffin prize for poetry. Despite his many accolades, he has remained focused on the poetry itself, saying that he wants his “work to be paid attention to, but I hate personal attention. I just want everyone to read the poems. I want my poetry to get all the attention in the world, but I want to be the anonymous author.”

And so here is a selection of Wright’s poems to be given all the attention in the world:

A Short History of the Shadow

Black Zodiac

Clear Night

Lives of the Saints

Miles Davis and Elizabeth Bishop Fake the Break

Northhanger Ridge

The Appalachian Book of the Dead

If that isn’t enough, you can read all fifty of Wright’s poems that appear on our site or listen to him read and discuss his poetry in these 1992 recordings:

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Posted in Poetry News on Thursday, June 12th, 2014 by Harriet Staff.