Franz Wright, poet and essayist

Event time: 
Thursday, November 2, 2006 - 11:15am
Event description: 

Part of the 2006-2007 Literature and Spirituality Series

Yale Divinity School Book Store - 409 Prospect Street, New Haven, CT

Refreshments for mind, body, and spirit will be served. Free and open to the public.


Franz Wright is the author of thirteen collections of poetry; his most recent, Walking to Martha’s Vineyard (Knopf 2003) was awarded the Pulitzer Prize. His newest collection, God’s Silence, will be published by Knopf in January, 2006. Mr. Wright’s other books include The Beforelife (2001), Ill Lit: New and Selected Poems (1998), Rorschach Test(1995), The Night World and the Word Night (1993), and Midnight Postscript (1993). He has also translated poems by René Char, Erica Pedretti, and Rainer Maria Rilke. He has 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. Mr. Wright has taught in colleges and universities, including Emerson College and the University of Arkansas. He has also worked in a mental health clinic in Lexington, Massachusetts, and as a volunteer at the Center for Grieving Children.

Born in Vienna and son of poet James Wright, Franz Wright began writing when he was very young. At 15, he sent one of his poems to his absentee father, who wrote back, “You’re a poet. Welcome to hell.” James and Franz Wright are the only father and son to have won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry. In a short essay on writing, Franz writes, “Think of it: a writer actually possesses the power to alter his past, to change what was once experienced as defeat into victory and what was once experienced as speechless anguish into a stroke of great good fortune or even something approaching blessedness, depending upon what he does with that past, what he makes out of it.” Charles Simic has characterized Mr. Wright as a poetic miniaturist, whose “secret ambition is to write an epic on the inside of a matchbook cover.” Time and again, Franz Wright turns on a dime in a few brief lines, exposing the dark comedy and poignancy of his heightened perception.