In this luminous new collection of poems, Franz Wright expands on the spiritual joy he found in his Pulitzer Prize-winning Walking to Martha’s Vineyard. Wright, whom we know as a poet of exquisite miniatures, opens God’s Silence with “East Boston, 1996,” a powerful long poem that looks back at the darker moments in the formation of his sensibility. He shares his private rules for bus riding (“No eye contact: the eyes of the terrified / terrify”), and recalls, among other experiences, his first encounter with a shotgun, as an eight-year-old boy (“In a clearing in the cornstalks . . . it was suggested / that I fire / on that muttering family of crows”). Throughout this volume, Wright continues his penetrating study of his own and our collective soul. He reaches a new level of acceptance as he intones the paradox “I have heard God’s silence like the sun,” and marvels at our presumptions:
We speak of Heaven who have not yet accomplished
even this, the holiness of things
precisely as they are, and never will!
Though Wright often seeks forgiveness in these poems, his black wit and self-deprecation are reliably present, and he delights in reminding us that “literature will lose, sunlight will win, don’t worry.”
But in this book, literature wins as well. God’s Silence is a deeply felt celebration of what poetry (and its silences) can do for us.
From the Hardcover edition.
Woods Hole Ferry
Crossing briefly this mirrory still Galilean blue water to the heaven
of the affluent, the users-up, unconsciously remote
from knowing themselves
our owners and starvers, occupying
as they always have, to no purpose,
the mansions and the beauty of the earth
for this short while
we all meet and enter at the same door.From the Hardcover edition.
Excerpted from God's Silence by Franz Wright. Copyright © 2006 by Franz Wright. Excerpted by permission of Knopf, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
About Franz Wright
Franz Wright’s most recent works include Wheeling Motel and Earlier Poems. Walking to Martha’s Vineyard was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 2004, and he has also been the recipient of two National Endowment for the Arts grants, a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Whiting Fellowship, and the PEN/Voelcker Award for Poetry, among other honors. He lives in Waltham, Massachusetts, with his wife, the translator and writer Elizabeth Oehlkers Wright.