David Wagoner lives in Bothell and is a local poet, professor, and novelist. Born in Massillon, Ohio in 1926, Wagoner relocated in 1954 to Seattle to teach at the University of Washington. There, he helped establish Poetry Northwest, one of the leading poetry-only journals of the last 50 years, as well as becoming known as one of the leading Pacific Northwest poets of his time.
His most recent books include The House of Song (2002), Good Morning and Good Night(2005), A Map of the Night (2008), and After the Point of No Return (2012), published by Copper Canyon Press. He also edited The Best American Poetry 2009. His work is known for its references to the natural world of the Pacific Northwest. He said of his move from the Midwest, “When I drove down out of the Cascades and saw the region that was to become my home territory for the next thirty years, my extreme uneasiness turned into awe. I had never seen or imagined such greenness, such a promise of healing growth. Everything I saw appeared to be living ancestral forms of the dead earth where I’d tried to grow up.”
His poetry has been recognized by such publications as The New York Times Book Review, who has said he is “predominantly a nature poet…as Frost and Roethke were nature poets.” The comparison to Theodore Roethke is especially apt as Roethke served as a professor, mentor, and friend to Wagoner, first at Penn State where he taught Wagoner and then at the University of Washington. Wagoner has recognized the impact Roethke had on him, saying “He knew reams of poetry by heart and he cared so much about it, that alone was electrifying to me and to others.”
Wagoner has been the recipient of numerous awards and accolades. Awards include the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize, two Pushcarts, and the Academy of Arts and Letters Award. He has also been nominated for the National Book Award two times. Wagoner received his M.A. in English in 1949 from Indiana University and is a professor emeritus at the University of Washington.
SAL thanks local poet Elizabeth Austen for being our guest host at the Wagoner reading.