God's Silence (Magill's Literary Annual 2007)
Franz Wright comes to the world of poetry as the son of the highly acclaimed American poet James Wright, who won the Pulitzer Prize in poetry in 1972. Franz won the same prize in 2004 for his wonderful collection Walking to Martha’s Vineyard (2003); they are the only father and son to have both won the award. When he was a child, many influential American poets came by to visit his father, including Anne Sexton, Theodore Roethke, and John Berryman. Young Franz came to believe that all of the luminaries were “nuts.” He found them all to be “big drinkers.” It took him many years to realize that one could be an artist and still lead a “normal life.” As a teenager, he wrote his first poems. It has been reported that his famous father said, “I’ll be damned. You’re a poet. Welcome to hell.” The young Wright learned over time that having a “love for the art itself” is what is crucial.
In 1953, Franz Wright was born in Vienna, Austria. He grew up to appreciate the literary life, but it did not necessarily bring happiness. In fact, Wright became a tortured soul who did not feel comfortable in his own skin. His first poetry collection, Tapping the White Cane of Solitude, was published in 1976. Four years later, his famous father died. During most of Franz Wright’s adult life, he has struggled with substance abuse and mental illness. At one point in time, he even attempted suicide. The creative fire alone could not...
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Bibliography (Masterplots II: Christian Literature)
Sources for Further Study
Hammer, Langdon. “To Live Is to Do Evil: Franz Wright’s Poems Pursue a State of Revelation.” The New York Times Book Review, May 14, 2006, 38. A detailed review of God’s Silence, describing how the poet’s “I” addresses “a (frequently) capitalized ’You,’ his name for God.”
Kriesel, Michael. Review of God’s Silence. Library Journal 131, no. 6 (April 1, 2006): 98. The reviewer notes that Wright succeeds in “conveying the ineffable convincingly” and calls for the collection’s becoming “required reading in our high schools.”
St. John, Janet. Review of God’s Silence. Booklist, April 1, 2006, 14. Considers the collection “thought-provoking, original, and refreshingly inspired.”
Wright, Franz. The Beforelife. New York: Random House, 2001. Wright’s first full-length collection of poetry after his commitment to Catholicism; the primary religious subject is the eschatology of the afterlife. A 2002 Pulitzer Prize finalist.
Wright, Franz. Ill Lit: Selected and New Poems. Oberlin, Ohio: Oberlin College Press, 1998. A broad sampling of Wright’s work from 1982 to 1998, useful for retroactively tracing the poet’s spiritual and religious development.
(The entire section is 202 words.)