Wheeling Motel

Wheeling Motel

by Franz Wright


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In his tenth collection of poetry, Franz Wright gives us an exquisite book of reconciliation with the past and acceptance of what may come in the future.

From his earliest years, he writes in “Will,” he had “the gift of impermanence / so I would be ready, / accompanied / by a rage to prove them wrong / . . . and that I too was worthy of love.” This rage comes coupled with the poet’s own brand of love, what he calls “one / strange alone / heart’s wish / to help all / hearts.” Poetry is indeed Wright’s help, and he delivers it to us with a wry sense of the daily in America: in his wonderfully local relationship to God (whom he encounters along with a catfish in the emerald shallows of Walden Pond); in the little West Virginia motel of the title poem, on the banks of the great Ohio River, where “Tammy Wynette’s on the marquee” and he is visited by the figure of Walt Whitman, “examining the tear on a dead face.”

Here, in Wheeling Motel, Wright’s poetry continues to surprise us with its frank appraisal of our soul, and with his own combustible loneliness and unstoppable joy.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780375711473
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date: 08/16/2011
Pages: 112
Product dimensions: 5.80(w) x 8.30(h) x 0.40(d)

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.

Read an Excerpt

Wheeling Motel

The vast waters flow past its backyard.
You can purchase a six- pack in bars!
Tammy Wynette’s on the marquee

a block down. It’s twenty- five years ago:
you went to death, I to life, and which was luckier God only knows.

There’s this line in an unpublished poem of yours.
The river is like that,
a blind familiar.

The wind will die down when I say so;
the leaden and lessening light on the current.

Then the moon will rise like the word reconciliation,
like Walt Whitman examining the tear on a dead face.

Day One
Good morning class. Today we’re going to be discussing the deplorable adventures of Franz Wright and his gory flute.
Just kidding. The topic this morning

is an unparaphrasable logic constructed from parallelisms and images and held together, on occasion, by nothing but the magical non sequitur—

but the hell with that.
We should really examine your life, the one you bought,
and what happened when you got home and attempted to assemble it:

that disfiguring explosion no one witnessed, no one heard,
which you yourself cannot recall,
and by whose unimaginable light you seek to write the name of beauty.

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