Your New Poet Laureate

from Garrison Keiller

“Charles Wright accepted the honor of being named the US Poet Laureate on September 25, 2014. He was born in Pickwick Dam, Tennessee (1935). His father was a civil engineer for the Tennessee Valley Authority, and the Wrights moved to different dams around the South, living in government housing. He never thought seriously about writing — when he went to Davidson College, there was only one creative writing course every other year, and he said the college “turned out lawyers, doctors and Presbyterian ministers.” When he was 23, he joined the Army and was stationed in Italy, and there he read the poem “Blandula, Tenulla, Vagula” by Ezra Pound, which was set in the part of Italy where Wright was stationed. He said, “I loved the sound of it — it was in iambic pentameter, although I didn’t know it at the time, and even if I had, I wouldn’t have known what that was.” He was so inspired by Pound that he started writing poems, and he went on to publish more than 20 books of poetry.”