We are thrilled to congratulate Charles Wright on his appointment to the post of US Poet Laureate. A frequent contributor to VQR since the 1990s, Wright writes elegantly and powerfully about—in his words—“landscape, language, and the idea of God.” With a resolutely Southern voice, Wright wrestles deeply with natural imagery and carefully unravels the tensions between body and soul.
“I came to my senses with a pencil in my hand / And a piece of paper in front of me,” he writes in a poem published in the Winter 1997 VQR, “All Landscape Is Abstract, and Tends to Repeat Itself.”
Wright’s numerous awards include the Bollingen Prize for American Poetry, the International Griffin Poetry Prize, the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize, the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Critics Circle Award, and the National Book Award. He is the author of twenty-four collections of poetry, most recently Caribou (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2014).
Wright taught at UVA for almost thirty years before retiring in 2011. As Poet Laureate he succeeds Natasha Trethewey, a VQR contributing editor.
The Minor Art of Self-Defense
By Charles Wright
(from VQR, Spring 2004)
Landscape was never a subject matter, it was a technique,
A method of measure,
a scaffold for structuring.
I stole its silences, I stepped to its hue and cry.
Language was always the subject matter, the idea of God
The ghost that over my little world
Hovered, my mouthpiece for meaning,
my claw and bright beak …
For more of Wright’s work, click here.