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Robert Wrigley: Poet, professor, and 28th Mackey Chair

February 10, 2017
By Emmy Newman’17

Robert Wrigley: poet, professor, and 28th Mackey Chair

This year’s Mackey Chair is Robert Wrigley, an acclaimed poet and professor, hailing from Idaho. Robert is a distinguished university professor emeritus at the University of Idaho and has published 11 books of poetry. Often pigeonholed as a nature poet, Robert hopes to push back on this limited view of his work, citing a wide range of influences in his work including W.S. Merwin, Etheridge Knight, and James Dickey.

As a poet, nature adds to his “image horde” according to Robert, and it remains a central concern of his poetry, along with the “centrality of time” and the “sheer ordinary brevity of life.” Often touching on the subjects of love, environmental justice, and politics, he approaches the world with a keen eye and a lyrical pen. He encourages his students to write poems that “endure and confront the condition of human being” as he proves the indispensability of the consciousness poetry brings us day after day.

A widely lauded poet, Robert’s poems have appeared in Best American Poetry, Best of the Best American Poetry, the Pushcart Prize Anthology, as well as in The New Yorker, The Atlantic Monthly, Poetry, and the Times Literary Supplement, among others. He will hold a reading on Feb.17 at 8 p.m. in Moore Lounge, where he will read a variety of poems including some from his soon-to-be-published 12th book, Box.

Robert has also held the Richard Hugo Chair at University of Montana in addition to being the recipient of the Kingsley Tufts Award, The Poets’ Prize, the San Francisco Poetry Center Book Award, and a Pacific Northwest Book Award, as well as fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Idaho Commission on the Arts.