God's Silence

God's Silence

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by Franz Wright
     
 

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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 formationSee more details below

Overview

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.

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Editorial Reviews

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." (Mar.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Ecstatic poetry is among the hardest kind to write; it's one thing to see God, another thing to make the reader see God, too. In this collection, which expands on the spiritual vision of Wright's 2003 Pulitzer Prize-winning Walking to Martha's Vineyard, the poet often succeeds in conveying the ineffable convincingly: "And everything that once was/ infinitely far/ and unsayable is now/ unsayable/ and right here in the room." Wright's use of free verse ranges from tightly structured to loosely confessional, at times sloppy in the book's second half. But mysticism demands a constant balancing act between epiphanies and self-indulgence. One can be grateful for the poems that work so splendidly, like "The Reader"-"The Mask was gone now, burned away/ (from inside)/ by God's gaze/ there was no/ I, there/ was no he-/ finally/ there was no text, only/ what the words stood for;/ and then/ what all things stand for." This and a few other poems should be required reading in our high schools, spiritual antidotes for our materialistic society. Highly recommended for all libraries.-Michael Kriesel, Aniwa, WI Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780307528896
Publisher:
Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date:
02/19/2009
Sold by:
Random House
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
160
Sales rank:
1,200,092
File size:
2 MB

Read an Excerpt

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

before

we all meet and enter at the same door.

From the Hardcover edition.

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