Early in 1972—following the publication, in April 1971, of his Collected Poems—James Wright was awarded both the Pulitzer Prize for poetry and the Fellowship of the Academy of American Poets. The latter was awarded “for distinguished poetic achievement” by a panel of judges consisting of W. H. Auden, Elizabeth Bishop, Robert Lowell, and Richard Wilbur. Thus, a considerable measure of public recognition was given to a poet already widely admired, especially on college and university campuses. In an age when, much to our loss, many fine poets find their books out of print, Mr. Wright’s earlier volumes—The Green Wall (1957), Saint Judas (1959), The Branch Will Not Break (1963), and Shall We Gather at the River (1968)—all have gone through more than one printing.
The following interview took place at Mr. Wright’s Manhattan apartment in early spring. The apartment is on the ground floor, and so, as we sat talking, we were able to look out through the (inevitably) barred windows at the small back garden and see, occasionally, the sunlight slanting between the surrounding buildings.
Download the complete interview (PDF): James_Wright