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God's Silence [Kindle Edition]

Franz Wright
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $18.00
Kindle Price: $11.84
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Sold by: Random House LLC

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Book Description

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.

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Wright's Walking to Martha's Vineyard won the 2003 Pulitzer Prize; this book offers more agonic short poems on struggles with addiction and pain, but from a perspective much closer to faith than despair. Extended pieces like "East Boston, 1996" arrive at brutal truths ("the eyes of the terrified/ terrify") and miniature lyrics such as "The Choice" ("God can do what is impossible, but / God can only do what is impossible") seem to project upward in spiritual longing. In an Icarian approach to the light, Wright weaves a doubt-tinged refrain—"I have heard God's silence like the sun"—through poem after poem; pieces such as "On the Death of a Cat" ("Dear Stealth / of innocence....") compete with more inspired passages. And as with Walking, the poet's father, mid-century poet James Wright, looms large, as absence and as towering presence. Although there are serious dips in the road here, the best poems offer hope and compassion, and embrace the contradictions they present: "Proved faithless, still I wait."
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

In his first book since winning the Pulitzer Prize, Wright conjures his particular magic through a personalized mix of realism, lyricism, and mysticism in powerful new poems. The collection begins with a long poem that delves into memory, and then rushes forward in a perfectly fluid way. Wright manifests a Rilke-like spirituality where inner and outer worlds unite, dichotomies dissolve, and boundaries of the physical realm shift and blur. Like a gifted tightrope walker, Wright balances on the edge of things with grace, knowledge, and acceptance of the world's accidental happenings. Although trying to diminish his own existence through self-deprecation, Wright glorifies the mystery of every human life. Sadness, regret, and raw realization surface, but they add dramatic tension and are always transcended by faith. Perhaps one of Wright's most attractive poetic gifts is his ability to speak with the world-worn wisdom of an elder while simultaneously evoking childlike awe. Thought-provoking, original, and refreshingly inspired, this collection will certainly garner more praise for this talented poet. Janet St. John
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Product Details

  • File Size: 143 KB
  • Print Length: 160 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0375710817
  • Publisher: Knopf; Reprint edition (February 19, 2009)
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #638,257 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
4.1 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
18 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Masterwork March 17, 2006
O man o man o man. I just finished with my first reading of this collection. How many poetry collections do I struggle to finish, have no interest in rereading? Maybe 5-10 a month. I not only relish the prospect of rereading this book, but I want to memorize lines, whole poems. He writes in the tradition of Herbert, Smart, R. S. Thomas, maybe with flashes of those writers, but Wright here is all himself. And he is accomplished here. His voice and lines are genuine, compelling, given with authority. His story is hard one. Lovers of the sly wink and chuckle of the ironic, those appalled that feeling and belief might be present, those who are quick to belittle without being able to offer any real alternative vision, won't enjoy this book. Nor is this book in the tradition of Collins or Dunn or any of the other 'pick up basketball is the metaphor of the suburban middle aged poet' school. This book is the reason to read poetry--claiming something on the page which is consequential, pointing toward something greater.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Urgent & Brilliant October 9, 2006
Franz Wright is a stunning poet who communicates how hard it is to live one single life and who is filled to the brim with raw emotion and compassion for the living and the dead. His lucid poems display grief, fury, love and unbearable tenderness, and Beckett-like hilarity, too: "(I was always the death of the party.)" The poems speak directly to us - intimately, honestly, urgently - with a fierce intelligence and deep spiritual grace.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars God's Silence Among the Brokenhearted September 14, 2010
"When Moses conversed with God, he asked, 'Lord, where shall I seek You"
God answered, 'Among the brokenhearted'." Abu'l Fayd Al-Misri

Franz Wright prefaces his book of poetry "God's Silence" (2006) with the above quotation which aptly summarizes much of the content of the book. Wright (b. 1953) won the 2004 Pulitzer Prize in poetry for his collection "Walking to Martha's Vineyard". He is the son of the poet James Wright who also received the Pulitzer Prize. I came across "God's Silence" while browsing in the local library, and it is my first experience with Wright's work.

The poems are in a highly confessional, personal style. The poet meditates on his experience with addiction, alcohol, and depression, together with a painful childhood. The tone of the poems are alternately sad, angry, or caustic. The poetry also evidences an intense religious faith which is Catholic specifically but more accurately described as mystical. The poems move from a transcendent vision to a vision in which God is immanent to the everyday world of sorrow and suffering. At their best, the religious poems of this volume are profoundly moving. Wright acknowledges the writings of Abraham Joshua Heschel and Thich Nhat Hanh as "constant sources of illumination and companionship" during the composition of the book.

The book is divided into four sections and consists of over 140 pages which is lengthy for a volume of poetry. Most of the poems are short. It is written in a free verse style with short lines which frequently spill over into long, running sentences. There are two translations included and two brief prose poems. The personal, confessional tone predominates at the beginning of the collection and gradually becomes overtaken by religious meditation.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Martha's Vineyard continued, maybe even surpassed! February 28, 2009
Walking to Martha's Vineyard was my first introduction to the writings of Franz Wright. Since then, I have read all of his other books because I enjoy and identify with his writing so much. With that said, God's Silence, continues where Martha's Vineyard left off.

Wright won the Pulitzer for Martha's Vineyard, but I honestly believe if this book would've been published earlier in his career, this might have won it for him. It's that good!

The poems are honest, inspiring, ironic, brutal yet beautiful and never boring. Often, when I am reading a book of poetry I have to force myself to finish it. Definitely not the case with Franz Wright or this book. I actually find myself rereading it, always discovering new gems I didn't pick up on the first read through.

Here are some examples of Wright's genius:

1. from Progress- "I was always the death of the party/In a way that leaves/a scar, I/no longer wish to love

2.from Scribbled Testament- "I stand before you/here,some hairy/primate's fall from grace/one of the patients of God/one of the orphans of light."

3.from The Heaven- "I lived as a monster, my only/hope is to die like a child."
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More About the Author

Franz Wright's recent works include Earlier Poems, God's Silence, and The Beforelife (a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize). In 2004 his Walking to Martha's Vineyard received the Pulitzer Prize. He has 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 currently lives in Waltham, Massachusetts, with his wife, the translator and writer Elizabeth Oehlkers Wright.

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