Wright was born in Pickwick Dam, Tennessee, and attended Davidson College and the University of Iowa Writers' Workshop. 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 1998 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. From 1966 to 1983, he taught at the University of California, Irvine. He is now a Chancellor of The Academy of American Poets and Souder Family Professor of English at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville.
- Outtakes Sarabande, 2010.
- Sestets Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2009.
- Littlefoot Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2007.
- Scar Tissue Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2006. (winner of the 2007 International Griffin Poetry Prize)
- The Wrong End of the Rainbow Sarabande, 2005.
- Buffalo Yoga Farrar, Straux & Giroux, 2004.
- A Short History of the Shadow Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2002.
- Negative Blue Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2000.
- North American Bear Sutton Hoo, 1999.
- Appalachia Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1998.
- Black Zodiac Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1997.
- Chickamauga Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1995.
- Quarter Notes (improvisations and interviews) U of Michigan Press, 1995.
- The World of the Ten Thousand Things. Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1990.
- Xionia Windhover Press, 1990.
- Zone Journals Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1988.
- Halflife (improvisations and interviews) U of Michigan Press, 1988.
- The Other Side of the River. Random House 1984.
- Orphic Songs. Dino Campana (translations) Field Editions, 1984.
- Country Music/Selected Early Poems Wesleyan University Press, 1982.
- The Southern Cross Random House, 1981.
- The Storm and Other Things Eugenio Montale (translations) Field Editions, 1978.
- China Trace Wesleyan University Press, 1977.
- Bloodlines Wesleyan University Press, 1975.
- Hard Freight Wesleyan University Press, 1973.
- The Grave of the Right Hand Wesleyan University Press, 1970.
His poems in The Best American Poetry series
|Year||Guest editor||Wright's poem||Originally appeared in|
|2005||Paul Muldoon||"A Short History of My Life"||The New Yorker|
|2004||Lyn Hejinian||"In Praise of Han Shan"||Five Points|
|2002||Robert Creeley||"Nostalgia II"||Ploughshares|
|1999||Robert Bly||"American Twilight"||Partisan Review|
|1998||John Hollander||"Returned to the Yaak Cabin,
I Overhear an Old Greek Song"
|†1988-1997||Harold Bloom||"Disjecta Membra"||The Best American Poetry 1997|
|1997||James Tate||"Disjecta Membra"||American Poetry Review|
|1991||Mark Strand||"Reading Lao Tzu Again in the New Year"||Poetry|
|1990||Jorie Graham||"Saturday Morning Journal"||Antaeus|
† The Best of the Best American Poetry 1988-1997