Library of Congress Announces Former UVa Professor as New Poet Laureate

June 12, 2014

Charles Wright can now add Poet Laureate to his list of many accomplishments.

“I'm very honored to have it and I feel that I can keep up the side, I hope,” says Wright.

The former UVa professor was selected as the 20th Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry for the Library of Congress on Thursday morning.

Congress Librarian James Billington calls Wright a "master of the meditative image-driven lyric."

Wright is humbled by the announcement and says that great poets before him inspired his work.

“The first poet I ever read, of course, inspires anyone who ever you get turned onto poetry for and that was Ezra Pound,” says Wright. “But then I stopped reading him when I realized that I couldn't understand what was going on, but I loved the music in the way he wrote.”

He began writing poems while in the army and after graduating from Davison College and the University of Iowa's Writer's Workshop, he published his first collection of poems in 1970, called The Grave of the Right Hand.

Since then Wright has published 24 books of poetry that include titles like Caribou, Bye & Bye and Negative Blue.

Charles Wright now shares the title of Poet Laureate with a few of the greats like Robert Frost, William Carlos Williams and former UVa colleague Rita Dove.

Dove says "Charles is one of this country's most eminent poets...he is a literary treasure, and this appointment is wise but long overdue."

Wright hopes to inspire young poets in the same way those before him brought inspiration to his work.

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