The son of poet James Wright, Franz Wright was born in Vienna, Austria, on March 18, 1953. During his youth, his family moved to the northwestern United States, the Midwest, and Northern California.
Wright’s poetry collections include Wheeling Motel (Alfred A. Knopf, 2009); Earlier Poems (Random House, 2007); God’s Silence (Alfred A. Knopf, 2006); Walking to Martha’s Vineyard (Alfred A. Knopf, 2003) which received a Pulitzer Prize; Ill Lit: New and Selected Poems (Oberlin College Press, 1998); Rorschach Test (Carnegie Mellon University Press, 1995); The Beforelife (Alfred A. Knopf, 1993); The Night World and the Word Night (Carnegie Mellon University Press, 1993); and Midnight Postscript (Tray Full of Lab Mice Publications, 1990). He also translated poems by René Char, Erica Pedretti, and Rainer Maria Rilke.
Wright received the PEN/Voelcker Award for Poetry, as well as grants and fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the Whiting Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts.
Deborah Garrison, his longtime editor at Knopf, said,
Franz wrote fearlessly about mental illness, addiction, and loneliness, as well as about faith and the unending beauty of his world, no matter how broken; he never wrote a line that wasn’t fiercely important to him, musical, as witty as it was deadly serious. Franz lived for poetry—at times it seemed it kept him alive—and he managed to write poems in which the choice to live feels continually renewed, not just an urgent daily requirement for the poet but a call to arms that includes every single reader.
Wright died on May 14, 2015, at his home in Waltham, Massachusetts.