Library of Congress names Charles Wright 20th Poet Laureate

By Kyle Johnson,

The Library of Congress revealed on Thursday that Charles Wright would be the 20th Poet Laureate, beginning the post in late September.

The latest Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry will begin his tenure in the fall, kicking off the Library's annual literary season. On Sept. 25, Wright will hold a reading of his work at the Coolidge Auditorium.

He will take over for Natasha Trethewey, who said she was excited about Wright's selection, noting she has long been a fan of his poetry. "His deep and abiding knowledge of poetry--his belief in its power to sustain us--makes him precisely the kind of advocate we need in the post."

"Charles Wright is a master of the meditative, image-driven lyric," James H. Billington, the Librarian of Congress, said. "For almost 50 years his poems have reckoned with what he calls 'language, landcscape, and the idea of God.' Wright's body of work combines a Southern sensibility with an allusive expansiveness."

Wright was born in Tennessee in 1935 and became entranced by poetry after reading Ezra Pound. He would begin working on his own while serving in the U.S. Army and after graduating from Davidson College and the University of Iowa Writer's Workshop, released his first collection, The Grave of the Right Hand, in 1970.

While continuing to release poetry collections and translate others, Wright taught at the University of Virginia, the University of California-Irvine and the Universita Degli Studi. His most recent collection, Caribou, was published in 2014.

Wright has been awarded the Merit Medal from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Poetry Foundation's Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize, the Los Angeles Times Book Prize and the Academy of American Poets' Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize.

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