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September 3, 2014

Charles Wright to Give Inaugural Reading as U.S. Poet Laureate, Sept. 25

Charles Wright will give his inaugural reading as the 20th Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 25.

The reading, which celebrates the beginning of the Library’s 2014-2015 literary season, will start at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 25, in the Coolidge Auditorium on the ground floor of the Thomas Jefferson Building, 10 First St. S.E., Washington, D.C. A book signing and reception will follow. The event is free and open to the public. Tickets and reservations are not required, but early arrival is strongly recommended.

Librarian of Congress James H. Billington appointed Wright the Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry in June. At the time, Billington said he was motivated to choose Wright because of "the depth and power that lay behind a beautiful linguist," and complimented Wright’s "sustained command of images, laced with humor and even a manner of self-deprecation." Billington said Wright’s "combination of literary elegance and genuine humility is the rare alchemy of a great poet."

Dana Gioia, former chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts, has said that Wright is "a poet who has spent a lifetime refining language to create poetry of tremendous evocative power."

Wright is the author of 24 collections of poems, including his most recent book "Caribou" (2014); the Pulitzer Prize and National Book Critics Circle Award winner "Black Zodiac" (1997); and the National Book Award winner "Country Music: Selected Early Poems" (1982). Wright has also published two books of essays, "Quarter Notes" (1995) and "Halflife" (1988), and has translated three poetry collections: Dino Campana’s "Orphic Songs" (1984), Eugenio Montale’s "Motets" (1981) and Pen Translation Prize winner "The Storm and Other Poems" (1978).

His awards also include the American Academy of Arts and Letters Award of Merit Medal, the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize from the Poetry Foundation, the Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize from the Academy of American Poets, the Los Angeles Times Book Prize and fellowships from the Ingram Merrill Foundation, the Guggenheim Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts. Wright was elected as a member to the Fellowship of Southern Writers in 1991 and to the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 1995, and in 2002 he was elected as a fellow to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He served as a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets from 1999-2003. In 2008 he received the Rebekah Johnson Bobbitt Prize for lifetime achievement in poetry from the Library of Congress.

The event is made possible by the generous support of Consuelo Duroc-Danner, building on Archer M. Huntington’s gift that established the laureateship at the Library of Congress 76 years ago. Duroc-Danner is a member of the James Madison Council, the private-sector advisory group to the Library.

The Library of Congress Poetry and Literature Center fosters and enhances the public’s appreciation of literature. To this end, the center administers the endowed Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry position, coordinates an annual season of readings, performances, lectures, conferences, and symposia, and sponsors high-profile prizes and fellowships for literary writers. For more information, visit

The Library of Congress, the nation’s oldest federal cultural institution and the largest library in the world, holds more than 158 million items in various languages, disciplines, and formats. The Library serves the U.S. Congress and the nation both on-site in its reading rooms on Capitol Hill and through its award-winning website at

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PR 14-158
ISSN 0731-3527

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