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Richard Wilbur: Online Resources

Compiled by Peter Armenti, Digital Reference Specialist

Richard Wilbur, U.S. Poet Laureate, 1987-1988
Richard Wilbur
U.S. Poet Laureate, 1987-88

On April 17, 1987, Librarian of Congress Daniel Boorstin appointed Richard Wilbur the second Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress. In making the appointment, Boorstin said:

We are fortunate that there is a Richard Wilbur to serve as successor to Robert Penn Warren as Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry in the Library of Congress. He is a poet for us all, whose elegant words brim with wit and paradox. He is also a poet's poet, at home in the long tradition and traveled ways of the great poets of our language. And he is a cosmopolitan citizen of the world of letters, whose essays and translations help us to the poets of other languages. His poems are among the best our country has to offer.

Wilbur began his term on October 5, 1987, with a reading in the Library's Coolidge Auditorium. As the Information Office noted for the Library's Semiannual Report for April 1-September 30, 1987:

A five-page article on Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry Richard Wilbur in People magazine and stories in other publications marked a notable beginning to his term of office. Long interviews, with pictures, also appeared in the New York Times, the Washington Post, and the Washington Times. He was also interviewed at length on ABC Network Television’s "Nightly News" and on "Worldnet," the USIA television program beamed to the entire English-speaking world.

Regarding the recent attention brought to Wilbur by his appointment as Laureate, Wilbur told the Washington Post ("The Lyricist as Laureate; Poet Richard Wilbur Reflects on His New Post," Oct. 6, 1987"):

Frankly, I've found it both delightful and harassing to get as much attention as I've gotten since April. There have been lots of letters from old schoolteachers and friends, that kind of thing. But what I'm really grateful for is not all the attention to me, but to poetry.

In a May 2004 video interview, Wilbur frankly reflected on his work as Laureate:

[My duties] were not very time-consuming really―to pick out a few lecturers and introduce them when they came to Washington; to give a little advice as to what books the Library should acquire; to suggest that so-and-so should record his poems for the Library. All of that is not too exhausting....

I also ran around and gave readings wherever I was asked to go and I did quasi-diplomatic things. When some English poets would come and read at the auditorium I would try to be nice to them within my powers. Subsequent Laureates have given the position still more meaning than it ever occurred to me to give it.

Among the activities to which Wilbur alluded above, he introduced and read poems as part of the April 18, 1988, program "An Evening of Poetry in Translation," which featured readings by Herbert Mason and Stephen Mitchell. He was interviewed for Grace Cavalier's Poet and the Poem radio series, and featured in a 30-minute videotaped interview titled "A Conversation with Richard Wilbur," sold through the Library's Sale Shop. He also appeared in a June 18, 1989, episode of The Writing Life, a "writer-to-writer talk show" produced by the Howard County Poetry and Literature Society, and appeared in an episode of the PBS TV series Voices & Visions, a 13-episode series featuring major American poets and their work, where he discussed the work of Robert Frost.

Wilbur served one term as Poet Laureate, ending his duties in spring 1988.

This guide compiles links to resources on Richard Wilbur throughout the Library of Congress website, as well as links to external websites that include features on his life or selections of his work. To suggest additions to this guide, please contact the Digital Reference Section.


[LISTEN:
Richard Wilbur reading from his poetry, Oct. 5, 1987. From the Archive of Recorded Poetry and Literature.]

Resources

Library of Congress Website
   •Biography
   •Articles
   •Audio Recordings
   •Print Resources
External Websites
   •Biographical Information, Poetry
   •Prizes
   •Interviews, Articles, and Conversations
   •Audio Recordings
   •Videos
   •Articles and Essays by Richard Wilbur
   •Literary Criticism
   •Resources for Study and Teaching
   •Book Reviews
   •Richard Wilbur in the News

Library of Congress Website

(Some links open PDF files. Download a free version of the Adobe Reader.)

Biography

Brief biography from the Archive of Recorded Poetry and Literature website

Articles and Blog Posts

"Literary Treasures: Richard Wilbur’s Inaugural Reading as Poet Laureate" (1987)
From the Catbird Seat blog, October 27, 2017

"Library Issues Video Interview with Poet Laureate Richard Wilbur"
Library of Congress Information Bulletin, May 16, 1988

"Richard Wilbur, Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry, to Read at the Library of Congress"
Library of Congress Information Bulletin, October 5, 1987

"Richard Wilbur is Appointed New Poet Laureate"
Library of Congress Information Bulletin, April 27, 1987

Audio Recordings

"Richard Wilbur Reading from His Poetry" (1:06:30)
Archive of Recorded Poetry and Literature, October 5, 1987

"An Evening of Poetry in Translation" (1:52:55)
Archive of Recorded Poetry and Literature, October 5, 1987

Mary Jo Salter reads Richard Wilbur's “A Plain Song for Comadre” (11:08)
Poetry of America, 2018

Print Resources

Works by Richard Wilbur in the Library of Congress online catalog can be found under the following author heading:

Wilbur, Richard, 1921-

Works about Richard Wilbur can be found in the Library of Congress online catalog under the following subject headings:

Wilbur, Richard, 1921-2017
Wilbur, Richard, 1921-2017--Bibliography.
Wilbur, Richard, 1921-2017--Correspondence.
Wilbur, Richard, 1921-201--Criticism and interpretation.
Wilbur, Richard, 1921-2017--Criticism and interpretation--Handbooks, manuals, etc.
Wilbur, Richard, 1921-2017--Interviews.
Wilbur, Richard, 1921-2017--Musical Settings.

Link disclaimerExternal Websites

(Some links open RealAudio files. Download a free version of RealPlayer software.)

Biographical Information, Poetry

Academy of American Poets
Biography of Richard Wilbur, samples of his poetry, and links to external resources.

Poetry Foundation
Biography of Richard Wilbur, bibliography of his writings, and links to more than 30 online poems.

Prizes

Interviews, Articles, and Conversations

"Tapestries of Afterthought: Remembering Richard Wilbur"
The Ellsworth American, November 3, 2017

"Remembering Richard Wilbur (1921-2017), Part 2"
Image, November 1, 2017

"Remembering Richard Wilbur (1921-2017), Part 1"
Image, October 31, 2017

"Richard Wilbur Remembered"
The Weekly Standard, October 30, 2017

"BTW Honoring Poet Richard Wilbur"
BTW Berkshires, October 26, 2017

"Redux: Richard Wilbur (1921–2017)"
The Paris Review, October 24, 2017

"Remembering Richard Wilbur"
The American Scholar, October 23, 2017

"Wilbur Remembered for Founding Wes Press’s Poetry Series"
Wesleyan University News, October 23, 2017

"Remembering Richard Wilbur"
Commonweal, October 19, 2017

"Richard Wilbur's Remarkable Sleight Of Hand"
New England Public Radio, October 18, 2017

"The Scope and Precision of Richard Wilbur"
The New Yorker, October 17, 2017

"Remembering Poet Richard Wilbur, Who Fused His Effortless Skill With An Honest Complexity"
WBUR, October 17, 2017

"Richard Wilbur Obituary"
The Guardian, October 17, 2017

"Richard Wilbur in The New Yorker"
The New Yorker, October 16, 2017

"9 Richard Wilbur Quotes to Inspire Your Inner Poet to Get to Work"
Bustle.com, October 16, 2017

"Remembering Poet Richard Wilbur, 'Heir to Robert Frost'"
The Christian Science Monitor, October 16, 2017

"Richard Wilbur, Renowned American Poet And Translator, Dies At 96"
The Two-Way, NPR, October 16, 2017

"Richard Wilbur, 96, of Cummington, Pulitzer-winning Poet"
The Boston Globe, October 16, 2017

"Pulitzer Prize-Winning Poet Richard Wilbur Dies At 96"
New Hampshire Public Radio, October 16, 2017

"Pulitzer Prize-winning poet, Amherst College Graduate Richard Wilbur Remembered for His Humanity"
MassLive, October 16, 2017

"The Most Perfect Poet in the English Language: Richard Wilbur is Dead at 96"
The Book Haven, October 15, 2017

"Tony-Nominated Lyricist and Translator Richard Wilbur Dies at 96"
Playbill, October 15, 2017

"Richard Wilbur, Pulitzer Prize-winning Poet, Dies at 96"
The Associated Press, October 15, 2017

"Richard Wilbur, American Poet Who Twice Won the Pulitzer Prize, Dies at 96"
The Washington Post, October 15, 2017

"Richard Wilbur, Poet Laureate and Pulitzer Winner, Dies at 96"
The New York Times, October 15, 2017

The World is Fundamentally a Great Wonder: A Conversation with Richard Wilbur
Conversation with Arlo Haskell, Littoral (journal of the Key West Literary Seminar), October 21, 2009

"Celebration of the World: ‘Let Us Watch: Richard Wilbur’"
Commonweal, August 23, 2017

"Stephen Mitchell Reads Richard Wilbur"
The New Yorker, August 16, 2017

"The Poet in Rome: Richard Wilbur in Postwar Italy"
The Common, Fall 2012

"Richard Wilbur: A Poet Turns 90"
Amherst College, Spring 2011

"Amherst College Pays Tribute to Poet Richard Wilbur with Reading of His Work"
MassLive, March 2, 2011

"A Birthday Card for Richard Wilbur"
The New Republic, March 1, 2011

"Amherst College to Celebrate Poet Richard Wilbur’s 90th birthday with Readings by Students and Faculty"
Amherst College, February 16, 2011

Richard Wilbur: A Conversation
Interviewed by Sunil Iyengar, Contemporary Poetry Review, January 2009

"Poetic Patriarch: The Singular Richard Wilbur Displays a 'Mozartean Felicity' with Verse"
Harvard Magazine, November/December 2008

"Former Freight Hopper Makes Good"
Conversation with D. H. Tracy, Poetry Foundation, April 7, 2006

"A Poet Still: Richard Wilbur at 85"
Amherst, Summer 2005

"The Overlooked Master: How Poetic History Conspired against Richard Wilbur"
Slate, November 29, 2004

"A {Certain} Logic"
Interviewed by Peter Davison, The Atlantic Online, September 9, 1999

"A Conversation with Richard Wilbur"
Interviewed by Paul Mariani, Image 12 (Winter 1995)

"Forty Years of Richard Wilbur: the Loving Work of An Equilibrist"
The Virginia Quarterly Review, Summer 1990

"Washington Talk: Poet Laureate; Avoiding the Pitfalls of Verse for Hire"
The New York Times, October 27, 1987

"Richard Wilbur"
People, October 5, 1987

"Richard Wilbur, New US Poet Laureate"
The Christian Science Monitor, April 21, 1987

"Richard Wilbur is Named Nation's Poet Laureate"
The New York Times, April 18, 1987

"The Art of Poetry"
Interviewed by Helen McCloy Ellison, Ellesa Clay High, and Peter A. Stitt. The Paris Review, no. 72 (Winter 1977)

"Richard Wilbur and 'Things of This World'"
The Harvard Crimson, December 17, 1968

Audio Recordings

Richard Wilbur: 2010 Key West Literary Seminary (1:06:52)
Recording from the Key West Literary Seminar, January 2010

Richard Wilbur: 2003 Key West Literary Seminar (1:03:12)
Recording from the Key West Literary Seminar, January 2003

Richard Wilbur: Great American Poet (57:21)
Writer's Voice, August 13, 2009

Al Filreis on Richard Wilbur's "Cottage Street, 1953" (Direct link; 7:41)
From PennSound

Audio of Wilbur Reading Selected Poems
Internet Poetry Archive

Garrison Keillor Reads Selected Poems by Wilbur
The Writer's Almanac (audio available for poems from 2001-present)

Richard Wilbur Reads "The Prisoner of Zenda"
The Academy of American Poets

Richard Wilbur Reads "The Writer" (01:52)
NPR, May 26, 2006

Richard Wilbur Talks about his Translation of Mallarmé's "The Tomb of Edgar Poe" (10:43)
The Poetry Foundation, April 19, 2006

A Reading in Tribute to Elizabeth Bishop (18:22)
Key West Literary Seminar, 1993

Richard Wilbur at the UMass Summer Arts Festival (50:25)
New England Public Radio, July 18, 1967

Richard Wilbur
92Y Readings, May 4, 1964

Videos

Amherst Reads - Let Us Watch Richard Wilbur: A Biographical Study
Amherst College, August 2, 2017

Richard Wilbur with Roger Rosenblatt (08:10)
92nd Street Y, May 20, 2009

Animated Video of "Some Words Inside of Words" (02:59)
Poetry Everywhere

Video Interview and Readings
Web of Stories, May 12, 2004

Articles and Essays by Richard Wilbur

1957 National Book Award Acceptance Speech for Things of This World
National Book Foundation

"Poetry and Happiness"
Shenandoah, Summer 1969

Wilbur on "The Book That Changed My Life"
National Book Foundation

Literary Criticism

"Joining World and Mind: On the Poetry of Richard Wilbur"
Contemporary Poetry Review, January 2009

"Richard Wilbur: A Critical Survey of His Career"
Dana Gioia Online. First published in World Poets, v. 3 (Scribners, 2000)

"A Certain Slant of Light: Richard Wilbur as Translator of French" (PDF, 254 KB)
Meta 44, no. 2, 1999 (pp. 295-311).

Resources for Study and Teaching

eNotes.com
Critical information on Wilbur from Thomson Gale's Poetry Criticism series.

Modern American Poetry
Excerpts of criticism about Wilbur's poetry, biographical information, full-text of a 1995 interview, and links to external resources.

Reading Wilbur's "The Death of a Toad" (PDF, 176 KB)
Literary Cavalcade, September 2004

Book Reviews

Collected Poems, 1943-2004 (2005)

Contemporary Poetry Review

Expansive Poetry Online

The Guardian

The New York Times

The New Yorker

The Washington Post

The Weekly Standard

The Pig in the Spigot (2000)

The New York Times

Mayflies: New Poems and Translations (2000)

The New York Times

Runaway Opposites (1995)

The New York Times

New and Collected Poems (1988)

The New York Times

Richard Wilbur in the News

Google News search on Richard Wilbur

Twitter results for Richard Wilbur

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