Charles Wright
Born (1935-08-25) August 25, 1935 (age 88)
Pickwick Dam, Tennessee, US
EducationDavidson College
Iowa Writers' Workshop
Notable awardsPulitzer Prize for poetry;
National Book Award for Poetry
SpouseHolly McIntire

Charles Wright (born August 25, 1935) is an American poet. He shared the National Book Award in 1983 for Country Music: Selected Early Poems[1] and won the Pulitzer Prize in 1998 for Black Zodiac.[2] From 2014 to 2015, he served as the 20th Poet Laureate of the United States.[3]

Early life and education

Wright was born in Pickwick Dam, Tennessee. Wright attended Christ School (North Carolina) in Asheville for his junior and senior years where he helped coach football, served as vice president of his class, and became a member of the honors program.[4] While at Christ School, he enveloped himself in the literature that would inspire him to write. By the time he graduated in 1953 he had read everything William Faulkner had written. He then matriculated at Davidson College and graduated with a BA in history in 1957.[5] He received a master's degree from the University of Iowa in 1963,[5] and attended the University of Iowa Writers' Workshop. He was a Fulbright Scholar at the Sapienza University of Rome[5] and at the University of Padua.

Teaching career

From 1966 to 1983, he taught at the University of California, Irvine.[5] Fellow Colleagues poets Robert Peters and James L. McMichael and novelist Oakley Hall shared during this time directorship of the university's well-known Master of Fine Arts program.[6] He went to the University of Virginia in 1983, where he stayed until he retired in 2010.[5]

He was a chancellor of the Academy of American Poets and Souder Family Professor of English at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville.


Wright began writing poetry while stationed in Italy during his army service, from 1957 to 1961, in the United States Army Intelligence Corps in Verona.[7][5] On June 12, 2014, the Library of Congress announced that Wright would serve as Poet Laureate of the United States beginning on September 25, 2014.[8] He retired from the position in May 2015.[9]


Besides the award-winning books Country Music (1982) and Black Zodiac (1997), Wright has published Chickamauga, Buffalo Yoga, Negative Blue, Appalachia, The World of the Ten Thousand Things: Poems 1980-1990, Zone Journals and Hard Freight. His work also appears in Blackbird, an online journal of literature and the arts.

Wright has published two works of criticism, Halflife and Quarter Notes.


His translation of Eugenio Montale's The Storm and Other Poems won him the PEN Translation Prize in 1979. In 1993, he received the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize for his lifetime achievement. In 1996 he won the Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize from the Academy of American Poets for the collection Chickamauga (1995).[5] Black Zodiac (1997) won him the National Book Critics Circle Award and the 1998 Pulitzer Prize.[5]


Further reading


External media
audio icon "Charles Wright Reads Selected Sestets and Other Poems" The New York Review of Books, 10 December 2009
video icon Charles Wright, Lannan Center for Poetics and Social Practice, March 26, 2013
  1. ^ a b "National Book Awards – 1983". National Book Foundation. Retrieved 2012-04-07.
    (With essay by Eric Smith from the Awards 60-year anniversary blog.)
  2. ^ a b c d e f "Prize Winners by Category - Poetry". The Pulitzer Prizes. Archived from the original on 2023-08-03. Retrieved 2023-10-06.
  3. ^ "Poets Laureate of the United States".
  4. ^ Motsinger, Carol (2014-06-24). "Asheville's Christ School grad new U.S. Poet Laureate". Asheville Citizen-Times. Archived from the original on 2023-10-06. Retrieved 2023-10-06.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h "Charles Wright | Biography, Poetry, & Facts". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 2019-11-06.
  6. ^ Morin, Tomas Q. (December 2003). "An Interview with Ai". Association of Writers & Writing Programs.
  7. ^ a b c Chiasson, Dan (2019-11-04). "The Many Voices of Charles Wright". The New Yorker. ISSN 0028-792X. Retrieved 2019-11-06.
  8. ^ Lily Rothman (June 12, 2014). "New Poet Laureate Charles Wright: Who Is He?". Time.
  9. ^ Charles, Ron (May 1, 2015). "A pair of U.S. poets laureate for the price of one". The Washington Post. Retrieved March 3, 2016.