David Wright

David Wright was born in Urbana, Illinois in 1966, but spent most of his childhood years in the town of Washington, Illinois, about ten miles east of Peoria.  He has one sister, Jennifer, who is two years younger.  His parents, Charles Wright and Nancy Clark, were both teachers who met while they were teaching high school in northern Illinois.  His father taught math at a community college and for a time was an avid runner.  Having been raised in poor economic conditions, Wright’s father was the most successful member of his family and in some ways always felt responsible for David’s grandmother and two aunts.  Wright’s mother taught business skills until she quit to take care of David and his sister.  She later worked at the local public library.

Wright attended the public schools in Washington, receiving an education that he describes as "adequate, if not especially innovative."  In first grade, he wrote his first poems, and names his teacher, Mrs. Hickam, as having greatly influenced him.  His music teachers over the years have also profoundly impacted him, because music is where his interest in language began. Music, along with church and television, strongly influenced his perception of language.  Wright originally intended to study journalism, but good experiences in English and music led him in those directions instead.

While Wright was growing up, his family attended churches of a number of different denominations, from an evangelical church in Peoria to a more liberal United Methodist Church.  Though he had meaningful conversion experiences as a child in Sunday School, Wright's faith waned during his high school years.  It wasn’t revived until just after high school when he spent time with a Mennonite youth group in Washington. In college, his faith became more important as he joined a chapter of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, and after graduating considered attending seminary and becoming a pastor.  Subsequently, Biblical subjects and religious language appear often in his poetry.  Before joining the Mennonite church in 1997, Wright and his wife attended both an independent evangelical church in Chicago and for a time became members of a Lutheran church.

After high school, Wright attended Millikin University in Decatur, Illinois, where he learned to combine his love of English with his love of music in the form of poetry.  He graduated with a BA in English and went on to graduate school at Northeast Missouri Sate University where he received an MA in English.  During graduate school, Wright moved away from writing poetry, focusing more on theory and criticism.  After receiving his MA,  Wright moved to Chicago with his wife Rebecca to study for his PhD at Loyola University.  Before he finished, they returned to central Illinois.  There, Wright taught at Richland Community College for six years.  This turned out to be a very rough time for Wright; in addition to the stresses of the birth of his daughter, Hannah, and of Rebecca starting medical school, Wright had to cope with the death of his father.  It was during this time that Wright joined the Mennonite church and returned to poetry (under the influences of poets such as Jeff Gundy and Scott Cairns), publishing his first book of poetry, Lines from the Provinces.  After Rebecca finished medical school, they moved back to the Chicago area for her residency.  Wright began teaching at Wheaton College, where he still teaches today despite having moved back to central Illinois where Rebecca is a practicing pediatrician.

Wright has received a number of awards, including an Illinois Arts Council Artist’s fellowship for poetr, and ha been recognized by the Associated Church Press.  He has also done numerous readings throughout the United States, and his work has appeared in dozens of publications including his two books of poetry, Lines From the Provinces (2000) and A Liturgy for Stones (2003).  Currently, he is working on two projects, After, another collection of poetry, and Fidelities: Essays on Faith and Writing.
 

Works Cited:

Hostetler, Ann, ed. A Cappella: Mennonite Voices in Poetry. Iowa City: Univeristy of Iowa Press, 2003.

Wright, David. "A Few Worries about Being a Poet." DreamSeeker Magazine 4.1 (2004). 18 Oct. 2004. <http://www.pandorapressus.com/dsm/winter04/wrigda.htm>.

Wright, David. Personal interview. 11 Oct. 2004.
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