David Wagoner

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David Wagoner
Born (1926-06-05) June 5, 1926 (age 94)
Massillon, Ohio, United States
  • Poet
  • novelist
  • professor

David Russell Wagoner (born June 5, 1926) 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.[1] He received an M.A. in English from the Indiana University in 1949[2] and has taught at the University of Washington since 1954 on the suggestion of friend and fellow poet Theodore Roethke.[3]

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.[4] Wagoner was elected chancellor of the Academy of American Poets in 1978[3] and served in that capacity until 1999.[5] One of his novels, The Escape Artist, was turned into a film by executive producer Francis Ford Coppola.[6] He currently teaches in the low-residency MFA program of the Northwest Institute of Literary Arts on Whidbey Island.[7]

Pacific Northwest[edit]

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."[2]


David Wagoner's Collected Poems was nominated for the National Book Award in 1977 and he won the Pushcart Prize that same year. He was again nominated for a National Book Award in 1979 for In Broken Country. He won his second Pushcart Prize in 1983.[1] He is the recipient of the American Academy of Arts and Letters award, the Sherwood Anderson Foundation Fiction Award, the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize (1991), the English-Speaking Union prize from Poetry magazine, and the Arthur Rense Prize in 2011. He has also received fellowships from the Ford Foundation, the Guggenheim Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts.


Poetry collections[edit]

  • Dry Sun, Dry Wind (1953)
  • A Place to Stand (1958)
  • Poems (1959)
  • The Nesting Ground (1963)
  • Staying Alive (1966)
  • New and Selected Poems (1969)
  • Working Against Time (1970)
  • Riverbed (1972)
  • 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)
  • One for the Rose (1981)
  • Landfall (1981)
  • My Physics Teacher (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)
  • After the Point of No Return (Copper Canyon Press, 2012)


  • The Man in the Middle (1954)
  • Money, Money, Money (1955)
  • Rock (1958)
  • The Escape Artist (1965)
  • Baby, Come On Inside (1968)
  • Where is My Wandering Boy Tonight? (1970)
  • The Road to Many a Wonder (1974)
  • Tracker (1975)
  • Whole Hog (1976)
  • The Hanging Garden (1980)

Edited volumes[edit]



  1. ^ a b "David Russell Wagoner (1926-)". Our Land, Our Literature. Virginia B. Ball Center for Creative Inquiry. Archived from the original on 2008-07-24. Retrieved 2008-09-06.
  2. ^ a b O'Connell, Nicholas (1998). At the Field's End. Seattle: University of Washington Press. p. 52. ISBN 978-0-295-97723-2.
  3. ^ a b "David Wagoner (1926- )". Poetry Foundation. Retrieved 2008-09-06.
  4. ^ "Past Roethke Readers". University of Washington Dept. of English. Retrieved 2008-09-06.
  5. ^ "Chancellors of the Academy of American Poets: Past Board of Chancellors". Retrieved October 12, 2010.
  6. ^ "Full cast and crew for The Escape Artist (1982)". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 2008-09-06.
  7. ^ "Whidbey Writers Workshop Catalog, 2009–2011: Faculty". Northwest Institute of Literary Arts. Archived from the original on July 18, 2011. Retrieved October 12, 2010.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]