Franz Wright Analysis

Other literary forms

(Poets and Poetry in America)

Franz Wright has translated the poetry of Erica Pedretti, Rainer Maria Rilke, René Char, and, with his wife, Elizabeth Oehlkers Wright, and the author, the poems of Valzhyna Mort. He has published essays in Field Magazine.


(Poets and Poetry in America)

Franz Wright has received two National Endowment for the Arts grants, a Whiting Writers’ Award(1991), and a Guggenheim Fellowship. In 1995, Wright won the Witter Bynner Prize for Poetry from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. In 1998, he received a grant from the Eric Mathieu King Fund. He was awarded the 1996 PEN/Voelcker Award for his book The Beforelife, which was also a finalist for the 2002 Pulitzer Prize. In 2004, Wright’s collection Walking to Martha’s Vineyard won the Pulitzer Prize in poetry. His father, the poet James Wright, had been awarded the same prize in 1978 for Collected Poems. They are the only father and son in the history of the prize to win for the same category. Franz Wright won the Paterson Poetry Prize in 2008 for God’s Silence. His poetry and translations have appeared in Conduit, DoubleTake, Field, The New Republic, The New Yorker, Salmagundi, Slope, and many other publications. Wright has taught at Emerson College and the University of Arkansas, and in 2009, he finished a three-year appointment as the Jacob Ziskind Visiting Poet-in-Residence at Brandeis University. Wright has also worked with the mentally ill and with grieving children.


(Poets and Poetry in America)

Kovacs, Liberty. Liberty’s Quest: The Compelling Story of the Wife and Mother of Two Pulitzer Prize Winners, James Wright and Franz Wright. Bandon, Oreg.: Robert D. Reed, 2008. An account by Wright’s mother of her relationship with his father and Wright.

Macklin, Elizabeth. “The Road Home: A Poet Evokes the Trip Back from a Dark Place.” Review of The Beforelife. The New York Times Book Review, February 4. 2001, p. 22. Macklin, a poet herself, presents an interesting perspective on the book that marks Wright’s transition from addiction and despair to sobriety and hope.

Parini, Jay, ed. American Writers: A Collection of Literary Biographies—Max Apple to Franz Wright. Supplement 17. Farmington Hills, Mich.: Thomson Gale, 2008. Contains an entry on the life and works of Wright.

Roth, John K., ed. Masterplots II: Christian Literature. Pasadena, Calif.: Salem Press, 2008. This comprehensive set contains an analysis of God’s Silence.

Wright, Franz. “A Conversation with Franz Wright.” Interview by Ilya Kaminsky and Katherine Towler. Image (Fall, 2006): 57. Lengthy and thorough interview (on the occasion of the publication of God’s Silence) covers Wright’s entire history as poet and human being, including his love of writing, his illness, addictions, and ultimate recovery, his marriage, his conversion to Catholicism, and the effects of success on his work.

_______. “Homages: Emily Dickinson.” Field 55 (Fall, 1996): 32-38. Wright’s fierce and loving homage to the poet Emily Dickinson conveys Wright’s own acute awareness of what makes poetry worth reading (and writing).

_______. Introduction to The Unknown Rilke: Expanded Edition—Selected Poems. Oberlin, Ohio: Oberlin College Press, 1990. Wright’s eleven-page introduction is an outstanding portrait of Rilke, and Rilke is a model for the kind of poet Wright is and aspires to be.

_______. “One Poet’s Awakening: An Interview with Franz Wright.” Interview by Maureen Abood. U.S. Catholic 11 (November, 2004): 26-31. Wright talks at length about religious feeling, poetic inspiration, and intoxication as impulses very close to each other.