Cover image for Walking to Martha's Vineyard : poems
Walking to Martha's Vineyard : poems
Wright, Franz, 1953-2015.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Alfred A. Knopf : Distributed by Random House, [2003]

Physical Description:
ix, 75 pages ; 22 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PS3573.R5327 W3 2003 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area
PS3573.R5327 W3 2003 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area
PS3573.R5327 W3 2003 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks-Non circulating

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In this radiant new collection, Franz Wright shares his regard for life in all its forms and his belief in the promise of blessing and renewal. As he watches the "Resurrection of the little apple tree outside / my window," he shakes off his fear of mortality, concluding "what death . . . There is only / mine / or yours,-- / but the world / will be filled with the living." In prayerlike poems he invokes the one "who spoke the world / into being" and celebrates a dazzling universe--snowflakes descending at nightfall, the intense yellow petals of the September sunflower, the planet adrift in a blizzard of stars, the simple mystery of loving other people. As Wright overcomes a natural tendency toward loneliness and isolation, he gives voice to his hope for "the only animal that commits suicide," and, to our deep pleasure, he arrives at a place of gratitude that is grounded in the earth and its moods.

Author Notes

Franz Wright lives in Waltham, Massachusetts.

Franz Wright (March 18, 1953 - May 14, 2015) was an American poet. He and his father James Wright are the only parent/child pair to have won the Pulitzer Prize in the same category. His collection of poems entitled, Walking to Martha's Vineyard, won him a Pulitzer Prize in 2004. Wright was born in Vienna, Austria. He graduated from Oberlin College in 1977. In 1996, Wright won the PEN/Voelcker Award for Poetry.

Wright died of cancer at his home in Waltham, Massachusetts, in May 2015. Deborah Garrison, his longtime editor at Knopf, told the Los Angeles Times: "Franz wrote fearlessly about mental illness, addiction and loneliness as well as about faith and the unending beauty of his world, no matter how broken; he never wrote a line that wasn't fiercely important to him, musical, as witty as it was deadly serious."

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 1

Publisher's Weekly Review

Terse and consistent, Wright's 15th book (and second from Knopf) returns to the haunted territory of The Beforelife (2001) with a wider range of formal tools. Heartfelt but often cryptic poems, split into short, sometimes even single-line stanzas, explore the poet's troubled romantic life, his self-destructive past, his attraction to a Christian God and his difficult memories of his father-influential American poet James Wright (1927-1980). The younger Wright can deliver a lucid analogy in a single line ("We were/ about as useful as a hammer and nail made of gold"), or stop short in epistemological doubt: "The seeing see only this world." Some poems address James Wright directly ("At ten/ I turned you into a religion"); others take up, laconically and often powerfully, a history of substance abuse and mental illness: "Risperdal whisperdoll// all alone in the dark/ garden." "Letter" bluntly ties the speaker's Christian seeking to his sense of human loneliness: "I keep my eyes fixed on the great naked corpse, the vertical corpse/ who is said to be love/ and who spoke the world/ into being before coming here/ to be tortured and executed by it." Wright's work relies on the force of affect and personality, more than on any particular formal choice; his use of fragments can recall Jean Valentine or Donald Revell, while his psychological probing can call to mind Frank Bidart. His best work may be his least typical, as in the rhyming "Auto-Lullaby," but fans will find Wright's self-diagnostics moving throughout. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved



"Walking to Martha's Vineyard" And the ocean smells like lilacs in late August-how is that. The light there muted (silver) as remembered light. Do you have any children? No, lucky for them. Bad things happen when you get hands, dolphin. Can you tell us a little bit about your upbringing? There is no down or up in space or in the womb. If they'd stabbed me to death on the day I was born, it would have been an act of mercy. Like the light the last room, the windowless room at the end, must look out on. Gold-tinged, blue vapor trail breaking up now like the white line you see, after driving all day, when your eyes close; vapor trail breaking up now between huge clouds resembling a kind of Mt. Rushmore of your parents' faces. And these untraveled windy back roads here-cotton leaves blowing past me, in the long blue horizontal light- if I am on an island, how is it they go on forever. This sky like an infinite tenderness, I have caught glimpses of that, often, so often, and never yet have I described it, I can't, somehow, I never will. How is it that I didn't spend my whole life being happy, loving other human beings' faces. And wave after wave, the ocean smells like lilacs in late August. Excerpted from Walking to Martha's Vineyard by Franz Wright All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.