The Library of Congress announced that 78-year-old Charles Wright will be named the next poet laureate this week. A retired professor at the University of Virginia, he has already won almost all prizes in the poetry world, including the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award, the National Book Critics Circle Award, the Bollingen Prize and the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize. Upon learning of his new post, he told NPR: “I’ll probably stay here at home and think about things.” Librarian of Congress James Billington chose Mr. Wright for his poetry’s “combination of literary elegance and genuine humility”, saying his work offers “an infinite array of beautiful words reflected with constant freshness.” Ancient of Days is from Caribou his latest collection of poetry published in March:
This is an old man’s poetry, written by someone who’s spent his life
Looking for one truth.
Sorry, pal, there isn’t one.
Read more of his poetry in these articles from the NYTimes and NPR. And check the EPL catalog for his works.
Former U.S. poet laureate Billy Collins sold his papers to the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas at Austin. The archive contains notebooks, doodles, clippings, and drafts of published and unpublished poems, as well as correspondence, recordings, and diaries. Mr. Collins decided to sell his papers after realizing how much material he had, including lines of a poem written on the backs of bank deposit slips. “I tried to look very serious as if I were making a monster deposit,” he said. You can read the rest of this NYT article here – and check the EPL catalog for works by this popular and prolific poet.
Natasha Trethewey has just been named the 19th poet laureate by the Library of Congress. Creative writing professor at Atlanta’s Emory University, she’s the first Southerner appointed to the post since Robert Penn Warren in 1986 (the first poet laureate), and the first African American since Rita Dove in 1993. In 2007 she won the Pulitzer Prize for her collection Native Guard, and her newest book of poetry Thrall will be published this fall. Much of her work deals with memory, “in particular the way private recollection and public history sometimes intersect but more often diverge. “The ghost of history lies down beside me,” she writes in one of her poems, “rolls over, pins me beneath a heavy arm.” See the library catalog for more of her writings, and check out this NYT article and the NPR link to hear Ms. Trethewey read two of her poems.
This October, Philip Levine will become the 18th Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress, succeeding W. S. Merwin. In the words of Dr. James H. Billington, the Librarian of Congress, Mr. Levine “is one of America’s great narrative poets. His plainspoken lyricism has, for half a century, championed the art of telling ‘The Simple Truth’ — about working in a Detroit auto factory, as he has, and about the hard work we do to make sense of our lives.”
In poetry, the Detroit native and son of Russian Jewish emigrants found “a voice within myself that I didn’t know was there. A joy in my being, in creation, in the physical world that surrounded me.”