The Beforelife (2001) with a wider range of formal tools."/>
 

WALKING TO MARTHA'S VINEYARD

Franz Wright, Author
Franz Wright, Author . Knopf $23 (96p) ISBN 978-0-375-41518-0
Reviewed on: 09/01/2003
Release date: 10/01/2003
Paperback - 96 pages - 978-0-375-71001-8
Open Ebook - 96 pages - 978-0-307-54889-4
Open Ebook - 1 pages - 978-1-299-22835-1
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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.)

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