Brief Bio: David Wright lives with his family and teaches in Central Illinois. His poems have appeared in Image, Artful Dodge, Ecotone, Poetry East and many other places. In 2003, he won an Illinois Arts Council Fellowship for poetry and his first poetry collection, A Liturgy for Stones (Cascadia, 2003), was published. He studied literature at Loyola University in Chicago and earned an MFA from Ashland University in Ohio.
What initially drew you to Ashland's MFA Program? I came to the Ashland program because of a need for a terminal degree and a desire to do serious graduate study in creative writing while still teaching and parenting full time. The intensive summer residency schedule, along with the high quality of the poetry faculty, drew me to the program. I knew before I got to Ashland that I wanted to study with Peter Campion and Ruth Schwartz and wanted to engage with the high profile visiting faculty. Once there I knew I had much to learn as well from Kathy Winograd, Angie Estes, and Carmen Giminez Smith, the other faculty with whom I studied.
What did you appreciate most? I appreciated the way faculty took seriously my desire to write new kinds of poems (new for me, anyway). While no two of the faculty members approached their work precisely the same way, each one was consistent in helping me discover what I needed to write (not pushing some version of work they imposed or implied, but assisting me to discover what I really had to say). Then, they worked me hard, challenging me to leave older habits behind so that I could discover new materials and method for making the poems I needed to make. I also value the very talented, generous classmates I met at Ashland, so many of whom also helped and challenged me to write poems about material and in ways that I would’ve avoided or finessed before coming to the program. In this process, these faculty and students became colleagues and even friends.
How do you feel this program impacted you? I wrote a much different, much better book than I would have without studying at Ashland.
What do you feel was the greatest takeaway? I took away from the program a sense of willingness to risk, creatively and personally, and a sense of connection to others who are eager to expand their creative repertoire as writers. I also regained my sense that writing lives most vitally when it grows into and out of rich relationships with other readers and writers.
What was the subject or theme of your thesis? My thesis, Several Heads, offers a book of poems both about and embodying brokenness—of relationships, of consciousness, and of language.
Finally, what are you up to now? Current occupation, or otherwise: Currently, I am a Lecturer in English at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. I’m revising my thesis manuscript, along with another collection, and I’m continuing to submit individual poems for publication.