cover image Wheeling Motel

Wheeling Motel

Franz Wright, . . Knopf, $26.95 (91pp) ISBN 978-0-307-26568-5

Once more the Pulitzer Prize–winning Wright (God's Silence ) delves into his own exceptionally troubled past and comes up with fractured and frightening—but also well-constructed and self-aware—poems about his former addictions, his inner depths and his recovery, giving thanks to his wife and to the Christian God. “I don't want to see a doctor/ I want to kill a doctor,” one poem opens. “And this is my alone/ song, it isn't/ long.” Wright's poetry of extremes has attracted both a wide audience and a sophisticated one: he speaks with terse authority about religious transcendence, crushing and even suicidal depression and well-known drug troubles—”Pretty soon you won't be doing that to get high./ You'll be doing it to get dressed.” If this collection differs from earlier volumes, it is in the kind and degree of attention that Wright pays to his father, the poet James Wright: “There's this line in an unpublished poem of yours./ The river is like that,/ a blind familiar.” Family matters, like much else, give Wright bleak grief: he turns, as he has often done in recent years, to religious faith, exploring his doubts but returning to his belief: “The world didn't give me this/ word, but// the world cannot take it away.” (Sept.)