Illinois State Library

Illinois Center for the Book

Individual Author Record

General Information

Name:  Robert Wrigley  

Pen Name: None

Genre: Poetry

Born: February 27, 1951 in East St. Louis, Illinois


Illinois Connection

Robert Wrigley was orn in East St. Louis, IL., and grew up in Collinsville, a coal mining town. He is a graduate of Southern Illinois University.

Biographical and Professional Information

Wrigley taught first at Lewis-Clark Tate College in Lewiston, Idaho and has been a Professor at the University of Idaho since 1999. He has published seven books of poetry, and has been the recipient of numerous awards, including: fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Idaho Commission on the Arts.

Published Works Expand for more information

Titles At Your Library

In the Bank of Beautiful Sins: Poems (Poets, Penguin)
ISBN: 0140587160

Penguin Books. 1995

Poems examine the nature of morality and personal values in the modern world

Reign of Snakes (Penguin Poets)
ISBN: 0140589198

Penguin Books. 1999

Described by the late James Dickey as "one of the finest new poets to come along in years," Robert Wrigley fulfills that early promise with this, his newest collection. Reign of Snakes is a book about desire, the soul's desire as much as the body's. As Jane Hirshfield said of Wrigley's previous book, In the Bank of Beautiful Sins (Penguin, 1995), "To read it is to unpeel a little further into the human, and into the wideness that holds the human--a splendid gift." Reign of Snakes takes us to yet another level, deep into the daily devotions, "where the dark blows a kiss to night."

. . . a frigid day in February and a full-grownrattlesnake curled to a comma in the middle of the middle of the just-plowed road. Ice ghost, I think, curve of rock or stubbed-off branch. But the diamonds are there, under a dust of crystals looming, impossible, summer's tattoo, the mythical argyle of evil.

--from "Reign of Snakes"

Lives of the Animals (Penguin Poets)
ISBN: 014200345X

Penguin Books. 2003

Lives of the Animals takes us to that place where the boundaries between predator and prey, the observer and the observed, merge, reverse, become re-imagined. We find ourselves inside a story of death and life, witness to acts of survival so primal they seem less instinctive than passionate. And it is passion that most informs these poems: the bond between lovers, between parent and child, between humans and other animals, both wild and domestic, that populate our shared world of hunger and need.

Earthly Meditations: New and Selected Poems (Penguin Poets)
ISBN: 014303779X

Penguin Books. 2006

One of his generation's most accomplished poets, Robert Wrigley is renowned for his ironic, powerful, and lucid style as well as his ability to fuse narrative and lyrical impulses. Earthly Meditations features nineteen original poems alongside a collection of sixty-one poems chosen from his first six books.

Beautiful Country (Penguin Poets)
ISBN: 0143118374

Penguin Books. 2010

A powerful new collection from an award-winning poet.

At the heart of Robert Wrigley's new book are the fears that find us at the darkest times and the hopes we rise to each morning. These poems explore that point where the sacred and the profane come together, that place of beauty inside the grotesque and the grotesque inside what is beautiful. The laws of nature, the commandments of capitalism, and the rules of war are transformed into songs of longing, patriotism, and dissent

we are also reminded of the grace residing in the glimpse of a horse under a full moon or the preserved lock of a lover's hair. Elegiac and lyrical, playful and angry, Beautiful Country offers a vision of a country that is unflinching, demanding, and generous.

Anatomy of Melancholy and Other Poems (Penguin Poets)
ISBN: 0143123076

Penguin Books. 2013

A powerful new collection from an award-winning poet Robert Wrigley has become one of his generation's most accomplished poets, renowned for his irony, power, and lucid style and for his ability to fuse narrative and lyrical impulses. Like its namesake—Robert Burton's seventeenth-century examination of human thoughts and emotions—Wrigley's new collection means to examine our world through the lens of melancholia. From imagined war memorials to insomniac chickens

from Descartes' lost daughter to a dreaming tree

from King Kong to Rush Limbaugh

and from Anna Karenina to a man named Lucy Doolin (short for Lucifer), these are poems that elegize and celebrate that most beautiful, exasperating, joyous, miserable, and perfectly imperfect of all creatures—the human being.


-- Kingsley Tufts Award in 2000Poets' Prize in 2006San Francisco Poetry Center Book Award