Poet and editor William Pitt Root grew up on his father’s farm in Florida. He earned a BA at the University of Washington, where he studied with David Wagoner, and an MFA at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. 

Influenced by Langston Hughes and Wendell Berry, Root composes expansive, musical free-verse poems that are nonetheless politically engaged. In a piece Root wrote during his tenure as the first poet laureate of Tucson, he stated, “Whereas Poetry may strengthen the weak and the injured, give recognition to the neglected and dignity to the afflicted, Poetry may also give the gift of affliction to those grown arrogantly careless in their strength.”

Root’s numerous poetry collections include White Boots: New and Selected Poems of the West (2006), PEN West Poetry Award finalist Trace Elements from a Recurring Kingdom: The First Five Books (1994), and The Storm and Other Poems (1969). Root’s poetry has been featured in several anthologies, including And What Rough Beast: Poems at the End of the Century (1999) and The Last Best Place: A Montana Anthology (1988). 

His honors include the Southern Review’s Guy Owen Prize and three Pushcart Prizes as well as a Stegner Fellowship at Stanford University and other fellowships from the Rockefeller Foundation, the Guggenheim Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts. The poetry editor for the literary journal Cutthroat, Root has taught at Hunter College, Michigan State, and the University of Montana. He lives with his wife, poet Pamela Uschuk, near Durango, Colorado.