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Franz Wright

1953–2015

The son of poet James Wright, Franz Wright was born in Vienna on March 18, 1953. During his youth, his family moved to the Northwest 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, The Beforelife (2001); Ill Lit: New and Selected Poems (Oberlin College Press, 1998); Rorschach Test (Carnegie Mellon University Press, 1995); 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.


Bibliography

Poetry

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) 
The Beforelife (Alfred A. Knopf, 2001)
Ill Lit: New and Selected Poems (Oberlin College Press, 1998)
Rorschach Test (Carnegie Mellon University Press, 1995)
The Night World and the Word Night (Carnegie Mellon University Press, 1993)
Midnight Postscript (Tray Full of Lab Mice Publications, 1990)

Franz Wright
Photo credit: Elizabeth Oehlkers Wright

By This Poet

1

Wheeling Motel

The vast waters flow past its back-yard.
You can purchase a six-pack in bars!
Tammy Wynette's on the marquee
 
a block down. It's twenty-five years ago:
you went to death, I to life, and
which was luckier God only knows.

There's this line in an unpublished poem of yours.
The river is like that,
a blind familiar.

The wind will die down when I say so;
the leaden and lessening light on
the current.
 
Then the moon will rise
like the word reconciliation,
like Walt Whitman examining the tear on a dead face.