Jay Wright is an acclaimed African American poet, essayist and dramaturge. His volumes include Transfigurations: Collected Poems, Transformations, Boleros, Selected Poems of Jay Wright, Explications/Interpretations, Elaine's Book, The Double Invention of Komo, Dimensions of History, Soothsayers and Omens, and The Homecoming Singer. The eight volumes collected in Transfigurations form “an octave progression” unique for the tonal coherence that Wright was able to sustain over several decades. Using forms that range from classical to contemporary, Wright explores “the world in its multiplicity,” looking for ways to recapture historical experience and establish continuity with past ancestors and events.
Praising Wright for his attention to the multicultural dynamism that Wright calls “‘the fundamental process of human history,’” one commentator calls him “an unsung wonder of contemporary American poetry.” When Wright won the Bollingen Prize in 2005, he was cited for his “powerfully rhythmic verse” and credited with “giving voice to the African American experience in all its disparate constituent elements.” In the words of Harold Bloom, he is “an authentic poet of the Sublime…laboring to make us forsake easier pleasures for more difficult pleasures.”
Born in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Wright played semi-pro baseball with the San Diego Padres before pursuing secondary and post-graduate studies in a number of fields. He earned a B.A. in comparative literature from the University of California, Berkeley, and an M.A. in comparative literature from Rutgers University. His honors include an American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters Literary Award, a Lannan Literary Award for Poetry, a Guggenheim Fellowship, a MacArthur Fellowship, an Ingram Merrill Foundation Award, a National Endowment for the Arts grant, a Hodder Fellowship in playwriting from Princeton University, and the Oscar Williams and Gene Derwood Award. He has been poet-in-residence at Talledega University, Tougaloo University, Texas Southern University and Dundee University among others. In 1995 he was named a Fellow of The Academy of American Poets.
He currently resides in Bradford, Vermont.