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About this poet

Born on August 25, 1935, in Pickwick Dam, Tennessee, Charles Wright was educated at Davidson College and the University of Iowa Writers' Workshop. He began to read and write poetry while stationed in Italy during his four years of service in the U.S. Army, and published his first collection of poems, The Grave of the Right Hand (Wesleyan University Press), in 1970. His second and third collections, Hard Freight (1973) and Country Music: Selected Early Poems (1983), were both nominated for National Book Awards; the latter received the prize.

Since then, Wright has published numerous collections of poems, most recently Caribou (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2014); Bye-and-Bye: Selected Late Poems (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2011); Outtakes (Sarabande, 2010); Sestets: Poems (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2009); Littlefoot: A Poem (2008); Scar Tissue (2007), which was the international winner for the Griffin Poetry Prize; The Wrong End of the Rainbow (Sarabande, 2005); Buffalo Yoga (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2004); Negative Blue (2000); Appalachia (1998); Black Zodiac (1997), which won the Pulitzer Prize and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize; Chickamauga (1995), which won the 1996 Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize from the Academy of American Poets; The World of the Ten Thousand Things: Poems 1980-1990 (1990); and Zone Journals (1988).

Wright has also written two volumes of criticism: Halflife (1988) and Quarter Notes (1995) and has translated the work of Dino Campana in Orphic Songs (Oberlin College Press, 1984) as well as Eugenio Montale's The Storm and Other Poems (1978), which was awarded the PEN Translation Prize.

He taught at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville as the Souder Family Professor of English. His many honors include the 2013 Bollingen Prize, the American Academy of Arts and Letters Award of Merit Medal, and the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize. In 1999 he was elected a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets and served until 2002. In 2014, he was appointed United States Poet Laureate. 


Selected Bibliography

Poetry

Caribou (Farrar, Straus, & Giroux, 2014)
Bye-and-Bye: Selected Late Poems (Farrar, Straus, & Giroux, 2012)
Sestets (Farrar, Straus, & Giroux, 2009)
Littlefoot ((Farrar, Straus, & Giroux, 2007)
Scar Tissue (Farrar, Straus, & Giroux, 2006)
Buffalo Yoga (Farrar, Straus, & Giroux, (Farrar, Straus, & Giroux, 2004)
A Short History of the Shadow (Farrar, Straus, & Giroux, 2002)
Negative Blue: Selected Later Poems (Farrar, Straus, & Giroux, 2000)
Appalachia (Farrar, Straus, & Giroux, 1998)
Black Zodiac (Farrar, Straus, & Giroux, 1997)
Chickamauga (Farrar, Straus, & Giroux, 1995)
The World of Ten Thousand Things: Poems, 1980-1990 (Farrar, Straus, & Giroux, 1990)
Country Music: Selected Early Poems (Wesleyan University Press, 1982)

Last Supper

Charles Wright, 1935
I seem to have come to the end of something, but don’t know what,
Full moon blood orange just over the top of the redbud tree.
Maundy Thursday tomorrow,
                         then Good Friday, then Easter in full drag,
Dogwood blossoms like little crosses
All down the street,
                    lilies and jonquils bowing their mitred heads.

Perhaps it’s a sentimentality about such fey things,
But I don’t think so. One knows
There is no end to the other world,
                                    no matter where it is.
In the event, a reliquary evening for sure,
The bones in their tiny boxes, rosettes under glass.

Or maybe it’s just the way the snow fell
                                         a couple of days ago,
So white on the white snowdrops.
As our fathers were bold to tell us,
                                    it’s either eat or be eaten.
Spring in its starched bib,
Winter’s cutlery in its hands. Cold grace. Slice and fork.

"Last Supper" is from The Wrong End of the Rainbow by Charles Wright, published by Sarabande Books, Inc. ©2005 by Charles Wright. Reprinted by permission of Sarabande Books and the author.

Charles Wright

Charles Wright

Born in 1935, Charles Wright is the author of several books of poetry and has received the Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize and the Pulitzer Prize

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Bowls will receive us,
                                        and sprinkle black scratch in our eyes.
Later, at the great fork on the untouchable road,
It won't matter where we have become.

Unburdened by prayer, unburdened by any supplication,
Someone will take our hand,
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