Charles Wright, UI Graduate 63MF
(Former Writers' Workshop Faculty)

Prize Work: Black Zodiac; Pulitzer Prize: 1998 Poetry

Charles Wright (born 1935) is an American poet.

Charles WrightAuthor Biography - Charles Wright was born in Pickwick, Tennessee on August 25th 1935. He spent his youth and early adulthood in eastern Tennessee and western North Carolina. In 1957, Wright went to Davidson College where he earned his bachelor's degree. He then joined the U.S. Army where he served in the army intelligence unit for four years.

While Wright was statiened in Verona, Italy, he began reading the poetry by Ezra Pound and Eugenio Monte. Ezra Pound's poem, "Blandula, Tenulla, Vagula" moved Wright to experiment writing his own poems.

Upon returning to the U.S in 1961, Wright joined the University of Iowa where he then attended the Iowa Writers' Workshop and earned his Masters degree in 1963. He was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship at the University of Rome, 1963-65, as well as a Fulbright Lectureship at the University of Padua, 1968-69.

Wright has been widely published, winning the National Book Award in 1983 for Country Music: Selected Early Poems and the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1997 for Black Zodiac. Other works include Chickamauga, Buffalo Yoga, Negative Blue, Appalachia, The World of the Ten Thousand Things: Poems 1980-1990, Zone Journals and Hard Freight. Wright's work also appears in Blackbird: an online journal of literature and the arts.

Wright has published two works of criticism, Halflife and Quarter Notes. His translation of Eugenio Montale's The Storm and Other Poems won him the PEN Translation Prize in 1979. In 1993, he received the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize for his lifetime achievement. He is a Chancellor of The Academy of American Poets and currently resides Charlottesville, Virginia where he works as a full time professor at University of Virginia.

Learn More About Wright's Prize Winning Work

Black Zodiac by Charles Wright

Book Description
Black Zodiac offers poems suffused with spiritual longing—lyrical meditations on faith, religion, heritage, and morality. The poems also explore aging and mortality with restless grace. Approaching his vast subjects by way of small moments, Wright magnifies details to reveal truths much larger than the quotidian happenings that engendered them. His is an astonishing, flexible, domestic-yet-universal verse. As the critic Helen Vendler has observed, Wright is a poet who "sounds like nobody else."
(Taken from

Editorial Reviews
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An Interview with Charles Wright

In an interview in April 1998, from the PBS website, Charles Wright discusses his Pulitzer Prize winning work, Black Zodiac, and talks about being a "Southern" poet.
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(Real Audio Format)

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Bibliography - Charles Wright


* Six Poems (1965)
* Private Madrigals (1969)
* The Grave of the Right Hand (1969)
* The Venice Notebook (1971)
* Hard Freight (1973)
* Bloodlines (1975)
* China Trace (1977)
* The Southern Cross (1981)
* Country Music: Selected Early Poems (1982)
* Zone Journals (1988)
* The World of the Ten Thousand Things: Poems, 1980-1990 (1990)
* The Other Side of the River (1994)
* Chickamauga (1995)
* Black Zodiac (1997)
* Appalachia (1998)
* North American Bear (1999)
* Negative Blue (2000)
* A Short History of the Shadow (2002)
* Buffalo Yoga (2004)
* The Wrong End of the Rainbow (2005)
* Scar Tissue (2006)
* Littlefoot (2007)


* Halflife: Improvisations and Interviews, 1977-1987 (1988)
* Quarter Notes: Improvisations and Interviews (1995)


* The Storm and Other Things (1978)
* Orphic Songs (1984)

External links