JONATHAN BLUNK is the author of James Wright: A Life in Poetry, the authorized biography of the poet published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux in October 2017. Blunk assisted with editing Wright’s selected letters, A Wild Perfection (FSG, 2005). His essay on the poetry of Jean Valentine is included in This-World Company, the collection of critical writing devoted to her work published by the University of Michigan Press in 2012.
A graduate of the Warren Wilson MFA Program for Writers, Blunk has published poems, essays, and interviews in The Georgia Review, The American Poetry Review, The Nation, Poets & Writers Magazine and other journals and magazines. His independent radio production, The Voices of Worcester: A Literary History (1989), featured an interview with the poet Stanley Kunitz that was chosen for Kunitz’s collection, Interviews and Encounters (Sheep Meadow Press, 1992).
In the 1980s, Blunk worked as a research assistant at the Institute of Jazz Studies at Rutgers University in Newark, NJ, and as an on-air radio host in the New York area. He wrote and co-produced Reggae: The Beat of the Heart, a history of Jamaican popular music for National Public Radio. First broadcast nationwide in February 1986, this four-hour documentary series is based on interviews with more than 70 renowned musicians.
In 1981, Blunk became the first private student of the master jazz bassist, Cecil McBee, who now teaches at the New England Conservatory. Blunk is assisting McBee with finalizing a book of doublebass instruction and jazz improvisation.
For more than three decades, Blunk has also worked as a literary editor and legal proofreader, and has broad experience with name branding and independent audio production projects.
At the time of James Wright’s death in 1980, Blunk had already begun writing a thesis at Cornell University on the poet’s translations from the Spanish. In 1990, to honor the publication of Wright’s Complete Poems, Above the River (FSG and Wesleyan University Press), Blunk began recording interviews for an audio documentary on the poet’s life and work. His research for James Wright: A Life in Poetry draws on more than 300 hours of interviews and archival source recordings that capture both Wright and the memories and reflections of his friends, family members, students, and colleagues, including some of the most prominent writers in the country.