(WASHINGTON) — Charles Wright is the country’s next poet laureate, charged with increasing the nation’s awareness and appreciation for poetry, the Library of Congress announced Thursday.
Wright will take up the post from Natasha Trethewey, who was U.S. poet laureate for two years.
Famous laureates have included Charles Simic, Gwendolyn Brooks, Billy Collins, Louise Gluck, Robert Frost and William Carlos Williams.
The poet receives a stipend of $35,000 from a private endowment and participates in a poetry series in Washington, D.C., along with giving a lecture and reading of his or her own work.
Laureates of the past have focused on their own projects, including poetry workshops for women at the Library of Congress, poetry for elementary school students, bringing poetry to public places such as airports and hotel rooms, and distributing a poem for every day to American high schools, according to the Library of Congress.
Wright, 78, is a retired professor at the University of Virginia who told The New York Times he was “honored,” “flattered” and “confused” to be chosen.
“I really don’t know what I’m supposed to do,” Wright, 78, told the Times. “But as soon as I find out, I’ll do it.”
Wright has been a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize four times and won the prize once, in 1998, for Black Zodiac.
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