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Chalres WrightCharles Wright, U.S. Poet Laureate, 2014-2015  Photo by Holly Wright

Charles Wright was born in Pickwick Dam, Tennessee on August 25, 1935. He is the author of 24 poetry collections, including most recently Caribou (2014), which Publishers Weekly calls "a dexterous balance of lightness in dark . . . rife with nihilism, humor, and beauty." Wright’s many honors include the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award, and the National Book Critics Circle Award, as well as the 2008 Rebekah Johnson Bobbitt National Prize in Poetry from the Library of Congress.

Wright attended Davidson College and the University of Iowa Writer’s Workshop. He also served in the U.S. Army. While stationed in Italy, he discovered Ezra Pound and began writing poems. He published his first collection of poems, The Grave of the Right Hand, in 1970. His subsequent poetry collections include the following:

  • Hard Freight (1973)
  • Bloodlines (1975)
  • China Trace (1977)
  • The Southern Cross (1981)
  • Country Music: Selected Early Poems (1982)
  • The Other Side of the River (1984)
  • Zone Journals (1988).
  • The World of the Ten Thousand Things: Poems, 1980-1990 (1990)
  • Chickamauga (1995)
  • Black Zodiac (1997)
  • Appalachia (1998)
  • Negative Blue: Selected Later Poems (2000)
  • A Short History of the Shadow (2002)
  • Buffalo Yoga (2004)
  • Scar Tissue (2006)
  • Littlefoot (2007)
  • Sestets (2009)
  • Outtakes (2010)
  • Bye-and-Bye: Selected Late Poems (2012)
  • Caribou (2014)

Wright has also published two books of essays, Quarter Notes (1995) and Halflife (1988) as part of the University of Michigan Press “Poets on Poetry” Series, and has translated three poetry collections: Dino Campana’s Orphic Songs (1984), Eugenio Montale’s Motets (1981), and The Storm and Other Poems (1978)—the latter of which received the PEN Translation Prize.

Wright’s other major honors include the Bollingen Prize, the International Griffin Poetry Prize; 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 of the Fellowship of Southern Writers in 1991, 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 1999-2002.

Wright taught for many years at the University of Virginia, where he was the Souder Family Professor of English. He also taught at the University of California-Irvine and Universita Degli Studi in Florence, Italy.

He currently divides his time between Charlottesville, Virginia, and northwest Montana.