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Meet the Next U.S. Poet Laureate: Charles Wright
June 12, 2014 11:43 AM   Subscribe

Various news sources report that Charles Wright will today be named the next Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry of the United States Library of Congress. An extensive biography and 50 poems are available from the Poetry Foundation.

Wright's latest book (2014) is Caribou. A poem from that book is available on the web site of the Washington Post.
posted by Jahaza (21 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite

 
It's announced on the LOC website, so I think it's official.
posted by aught at 11:54 AM on June 12 [1 favorite]


John Darnielle was robbed.
posted by oulipian at 12:04 PM on June 12 [4 favorites]


John Darnielle was robbed.

Was literally just typing this.
posted by dismas at 12:06 PM on June 12


I approve of this.

I never knew that the full title was "Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry". Are there other types of laureates that consult in poetry? "Natural Resources Laureate Consultant in Poetry"?
posted by Think_Long at 12:19 PM on June 12 [1 favorite]


John Darnielle was robbed.

Nah. My vote was always for David Berman.
posted by mykescipark at 12:23 PM on June 12 [1 favorite]


Chuck D should be the poet laureate.
posted by Renoroc at 12:39 PM on June 12 [3 favorites]




In all seriousness, I think some one or all of the following list was robbed: Rae Armantrout, Lyn Hejinian, Ron Silliman, Charles Bernstein, Bernadette Mayer, Clark Coolidge. All amazing writers who have changed the course of American poetry, very much for the better.

But I doubt I will live to see a truly innovative poet become laureate. That said, Charles Wright is not so bad a selection as some of those in the previous decade.
posted by aught at 1:00 PM on June 12 [1 favorite]


I wish they'd named Hayden Carruth, because that would mean Hayden Carruth was still alive.
posted by Bookhouse at 1:06 PM on June 12 [3 favorites]


Charles Wright's Art of Poetry interview from 1989.

Interesting guy, but I find a lot of his poems unengaging for some reason I can't pinpoint.
posted by sallybrown at 1:07 PM on June 12


It's a one-year gig, folks. Plenty of time for others to get in.
posted by homerica at 1:08 PM on June 12


This made me smile. The Southern Cross, Chickamauga, and Black Zodiac are brilliant. I have a lot of love for Scar Tissue, too.
posted by Beardman at 1:24 PM on June 12 [1 favorite]


On finding Wright unengaging: I've found some of his more recent stuff unengaging too (parts of Littlefoot, for example). I think it's because he is still circling the same themes: religious aspirations without religious belief, as Simic remarked of him, and of course his oceanic memory. But, to put a positive spin on it, he said this in an interview in The Southern Review:

“We’ve all got maybe four or five ideas in our heads our whole lives. We know that, and we all write basic variations on the same handful of poems, because those are what our interests are. If you don’t write what your interests are, it will be a piece of fluff—or worse, a piece of something else."
posted by Beardman at 1:35 PM on June 12 [1 favorite]


Hmmm, OK. Not overly enthused, personally, but he certainly won't embarrass the post.
posted by BlueHorse at 1:38 PM on June 12


Charles Wright is, notably (I think), the second U.S. Poet Laureate from my small town of Charlottesville, Virginia. Our own Rita Dove held the same position from 1993–1995.
posted by waldo at 3:39 PM on June 12


This is quite an honor, but I still think his best work was with the Watts 103rd St. Rhythm Band.
posted by Nat "King" Cole Porter Wagoner at 4:17 PM on June 12 [3 favorites]


The Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress should be assigned to come up with a new title for himself.
posted by vorpal bunny at 4:56 PM on June 12 [1 favorite]


This is quite an honor, but I still think his best work was with the Watts 103rd St. Rhythm Band.

Don't worry. Whatever he do, he do it good.
posted by jonp72 at 5:31 PM on June 12 [1 favorite]


If you ever get the chance, I highly recommend you hear Charles (Wright) read his poetry in person.

Measured, thoughtful, wry, contemplative. So good.

Few poets have the reading persona Charles does. Of the poets I've seen read in person, Rita Dove (Wright's former colleague and former poet laureate), Yusef Komunyaaka, and Alan Ginsberg (probably an unfair comparison) come immediately to mind.

Once you've heard Wright read his stuff out loud, you may find his printed poems more engaging.

I'm thrilled to see this happen.

FANTASTIC
posted by mistersquid at 9:19 PM on June 12 [2 favorites]


I'm just glad there is a US poet laureate, and I hope no one ever convinces the government to eliminate the position. I wish they would expand it. There should be dozens of concurrent poet laureates all getting paid in confiscated bitcoins to travel around the country on foot or by mule cart or by wooden boat getting people to read and write poetry. There should be a poetry desk next to the desk of the head of each government department in Washington: the poet laureate of education, of defense, of health and human services, of the railroad retirement board, of the bureau of land management, of the NSA and the FBI and the CIA and all the other spooks, of the farm credit administration, of the weights and measures division, of Radio Free Europe, of the Joint Program Executive Office for Chemical and Biological Defense.
posted by pracowity at 12:29 AM on June 13 [3 favorites]


I wish they'd named Hayden Carruth, because that would mean Hayden Carruth was still alive.

There's not a chance in hell he would have accepted - he wouldn't even go to the White House for a poets' event he'd been invited to during the Clinton years - but it would have been amusing to read his kiss-off speech, I guess.
posted by aught at 5:21 AM on June 13


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