New Poet Laureate: ‘The Meaning Has Always Stayed The Same’
June 12, 2014
The Library of Congress announced Thursday that the nation’s next poet laureate will be Charles Wright, a retired professor at the University of Virginia.
“I’m very honored and flattered to be picked, but also somewhat confused,” the poet told The New York Times. “I really don’t know what I’m supposed to do. But as soon as I find out, I’ll do it.”
“Thinking about things” has been fruitful for Wright, who’s won a Pulitzer Prize and a National Book Award for his poems, which often center on faith and nature.
He will pick up the position from current poet laureate Natasha Trethewey in the fall. In the meantime, he tells Block about the bad fiction he wrote in his youth and how spirituality has consistently informed his poems.
I first started reading it seriously when I was in the Army, in Verona, Italy, and I was 23 years old, which is very late for a poet — most poets start about the age of 3, I’ve come to find out. And they have a whole stack of poems that they wrote before kindergarten. But that was not my case.
I did try to write stories in college, because I was interested in writing, and I was interested in the sound of language, but I was just no good at narrative and at fiction. When I discovered the lyric poem, that advanced not by narrative steps but by blocks and layers of imagery, I said, “Gee, I probably could do that. So let me try that.”
sources of insipiration: the idea of the music of language