In his tenth collection of poetry, Franz Wright gives us an exquisite book of reconciliation with the past and acceptance of what may come in the future.
From his earliest years, he writes in “Will,” he had “the gift of impermanence / so I would be ready, / accompanied / by a rage to prove them wrong / . . . and that I too was worthy of love.” This rage comes coupled with the poet’s own brand of love, what he calls “one / strange alone / heart’s wish / to help all / hearts.” Poetry is indeed Wright’s help, and he delivers it to us with a wry sense of the daily in America: in his wonderfully local relationship to God (whom he encounters along with a catfish in the emerald shallows of Walden Pond); in the little West Virginia motel of the title poem, on the banks of the great Ohio River, where “Tammy Wynette’s on the marquee” and he is visited by the figure of Walt Whitman, “examining the tear on a dead face.”
Here, in Wheeling Motel, Wright’s poetry continues to surprise us with its frank appraisal of our soul, and with his own combustible loneliness and unstoppable joy.
Franz Wright’s most recent works include God’s Silence, Walking to Martha’s Vineyard (which won the Pulitzer Prize for poetry), The Beforelife (a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize) and Ill Lit: Selected & New Poems. He has been the recipient of two National Endowment for the Arts grants, a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Whiting Fellowship, and the PEN/Voelcker Prize, among other honors. He currently lives in Waltham, Massachusetts, with his wife, the translator and writer Elizabeth Oehlkers Wright.
Meet the poet on his book tour.