Biography of David Wagoner
David Russell Wagoner is an American poet who has written many poetry collections and ten novels. Two of his books have been nominated for National Book Awards.
Born in Massillon, Ohio and raised in Whiting, Indiana from the age of seven, Wagoner attended Pennsylvania State University where he was a member of Naval ROTC and graduated in three years. He received an M.A. in English from the Indiana University in 1949 and has taught at the University of Washington since 1954 on the suggestion of friend and fellow poet Theodore Roethke.
Wagoner was editor of Poetry Northwest from 1966 to 2002 and his play An Eye For An Eye For An Eye was produced in 1973. Wagoner was elected chancellor of the Academy of American Poets in 1978 and served in that capacity until 1999. One of his novels, The Escape Artist, was turned into a film by executive producer Francis Ford Coppola. He currently teaches in the low-residency MFA program of the Northwest Institute of Literary Arts on Whidbey Island.
The natural environment of the Pacific Northwest is the subject of much of David Wagoner's poetry. He cites his move from the Midwest as a defining moment: "[W]hen I came over the Cascades and down into the coastal rainforest for the first time in the fall of 1954, it was a big event for me, it was a real crossing of a threshold, a real change of consciousness. Nothing was ever the same again."
David Wagoner's Works:
Dry Sun, Dry Wind (1953)
A Place to Stand (1958)
The Nesting Ground (1963)
Staying Alive (1966)
New and Selected Poems (1969)
Working Against Time (1970)
Sleeping in the Woods (1974)
A Guide to Dungeness Spit (1975)
Collected Poems, 1956–1976
Who Shall Be the Sun? (1978)
In Broken Country (1979)
The Hanging Garden (1980)
One for the Rose (1981)
First Light (1983)
Through the Forest (1987)
Walt Whitman Bathing (1996)
Traveling Light (1999)
The House of Song (2002)
Good Morning and Good Night (2005)
A Map of the Night (2008)
The Man in the Middle (1954)
Money, Money, Money (1955)
The Escape Artist (1965)
Baby, Come On Inside (1968)
Where is My Wandering Boy Tonight? (1970)
The Road to Many a Wonder (1974)
Whole Hog (1976)
The Hanging Garden (1980)
Straw for the Fire: From the Notebooks of Theodore Roethke (1972) (selected and arranged by David Wagoner)
The Best American Poetry 2009
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David Wagoner Poems
At The Door
All actors look for them-the defining moments When what a character does is what he is. The script may say, He goes to the door And exits or She goes out the door stage left.
This Is A Wonderful Poem
Come at it carefully, don't trust it, that isn't its right name, It's wearing stolen rags, it's never been washed, its breath Would look moss-green if it were really breathing, It won't get out of the way, it stares at you
Wallace Stevens On His Way To Work
The Junior High School Band Concert
When our semi-conductor Raised his baton, we sat there Gaping at Marche Militaire, Our mouth-opening number.
For A Row Of Laurel Shrubs
The Shooting Of John Dillinger Outside T...
Chicago ran a fever of a hundred and one that groggy Sunday. A reporter fried an egg on a sidewalk; the air looked shaky. And a hundred thousand people were in the lake like shirts in a laundry.
Stand still. The trees ahead and bushes beside you Are not lost. Wherever you are is called Here, And you must treat it as a powerful stranger, Must ask permission to know it and be known.
This is a Wonderful Poem -new-
Come at it carefully, don't trust it, that isn't its right name, It's wearing stolen rags, it's never been washed, its breath Would look moss-green if it were really breathing,
The Cherry Tree -new-
Out of the nursery and into the garden where it rooted and survived its first hard winter, then a few years of freedom while it blossomed,
For Laurel and Hardy on My Workroom Wall -new-
They're tipping their battered derbies and striding forward In step for a change, chipper, self-assured, Their cardboard suitcases labeled
In Rubble -new-
Right after the bomb, even before the ceiling And walls and floor are rearranging You and themselves into a different world,
Peacock Display -new-
He approaches her, trailing his whole fortune, Perfectly cocksure, and suddenly spreads The huge fan of his tail for her amazement.
That Child -new-
That child was dangerous. That just-born Newly washed and silent baby Wrapped in deerskin and held warm
Their Bodies -new-
That gaunt old man came first, his hair as white As your scoured tables. Maybe you'll recollect him
Stand still. The trees ahead and bushes beside you
Are not lost. Wherever you are is called Here,
And you must treat it as a powerful stranger,
Must ask permission to know it and be known.
The forest breathes. Listen. It answers,
I have made this place around you.
If you leave it, you may come back again, saying Here.
No two trees are the same to Raven.
No two branches are the same to Wren.