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God's Silence

4.09 of 5 stars 4.09  ·  rating details  ·  333 ratings  ·  35 reviews
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 ru ...more
Hardcover, 160 pages
Published March 21st 2006 by Knopf (first published 2006)
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Michael McGrinder
Sep 05, 2014 Michael McGrinder rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: poetry lovers, readers of poetry
I have known Franz Wright’s poetry only through scattered pieces on the internet. (There are many.) He is quite open that he is a recovering addict and a devout Roman Catholic convert, both of which inform much of this volume. There is no doubt that the man is a first-rate poet. Some of his imagery is sublime, as in: Dawn Walks in Blue and Diamonds, which is a poem’s title, and, I have heard/God’s silence/like the sun, from which the book’s title derives, and which is so good that I have no quar ...more
Dhanaraj Rajan
An Admission:

With poetry collections, I always have trouble writing the review. For, I am not sure whether I will do justice to the poems or justice to the emotions that I felt while reading some of the poems.

One of my favourite poems from the collection:


“If I could stop talking, completely
cease talking for a year, I might begin
to get well,” he muttered.
Off alone again performing
brain surgery on himself
in a small badly lit
room with no mirror. A room
whose floor, ceiling and walls
Claudia f. Savage
Franz Wright continues to thrill me with his form. Sparse, light between the lines, perfect pauses. He creates and I aspire. His lines are like a well-lit leaf in a dusky forest.

I couldn't give the collection 5 stars because I've read all his wonderful books and sometimes I just want him to have a new obsession. His constant discussion of his alcoholism and his issues with his dad wear on me a bit. I want him to whittle away at these themes the way he whittles away at his lines, so there is mor
John Pappas
Funny, heart-breaking and God-haunted...not as direct and nakedly forthright as his Pulitzer Prize-winning collection Walking to Martha's Vineyard, but still a powerful, almost prayer-like, record of a man questing for meaning and redemption while grappling with thoughts of his own mortality.
"I lived as a monster, my only/hope is to die like a child."

His honesty is brutal.
The second Franz Wright book I've read. Again, this is a good poet, but he's stuck with an interminable subject. God is such an empty or personally un-relatable thing that the poems can only ever be ephemeral themselves. In that sense, Wright succeeds and fails.

God is a lot like love: unless you happen to be in its grip at the time, any mention of it is going to come off as delusion. It's a sickness we're almost constitutionally incapable of shunning. Like love, god presents itself briefly and d
The thing to do here is not to write a review of this beautiful book. The thing to do here is to just copy down my favorite poem from it, since it seems to be unavailable on the internet:


How do you do. I am the broken
bird hidden in a grass-filled shoebox
and gradually nursed to death by some neglected child

I'm the crazy woman whose pet rat rides her left shoulder
drinking her tears.

Wait a minute--
allow me to regress.


there once was a weird little girl
whose weirdness was not all h
Normally, I cringe a little at poetry collections more than 50 pages in length (barring anthologies and collected and selected, of course), for usually longer collections end up feeling way too loose, kind of like watching a needlessly included deleted scene - I end up sitting there, saying, "Yup, that should have been cut." Maybe there's business pressure sometimes to put out a longer collection (since I myself have picked up a 40-page book and seen the price and have said to myself, "?!?"), bu ...more
Rarely does poetry move me to tears. But when I first heard Wright read his poetry on the radio, driving in December twilight through some mid-western state (was it Arizona?), I was struck. I forgot about him, though, for nearly a year until I stumbled upon this book at Elliot Bay earlier this summer. Once again, Wright's words moved to me tears, as his words frequently speak to both the consolation and the loneliness found in divine silence. Here are a few of my favorite excerpts.

And I have he
Really good poetry, though over long. I saw Franz Wright at the Festival of Faith and Writing and was blown away by his thoughts and reading. He is a poet supremely concerned with the big questions in life and not in the market for easy answers. But, at the same time, he is not afraid of being disarmingly confessional in his poems. Though it is heresy to confuse the speaker of the poem with the author, I'm pretty sure many of these poems are purely autobiographical, and powerful because of that.
Each time I read one of his books I end up liking--loving--it more than I thought I would on the first page. Wright doesn't use any tricks--he just says things so beautifully.
Kat Alexander
And occasionally I weep to think of how one could write such beautiful tortures.
Vikki Marshall
Franz Wright delivers his poetry in raw emotions, his words sometimes painful yet always a perfect symphony of ideas and sound. In this book he bares his wounded soul and offers an atonement of sorts. Wright confronts the numbness of fear, tortuous guilt and the impermanence of humanness. We encounter snowfall and sunlight, reflections, and the anguish that darkens hope. It is silence that is ever present, stemming both from Wright and from that which will ultimately heal him. This is a book of ...more
JJ Aitken
This is such a perfect example of poetry being the only true medium for honesty to thrive un-bridled. The deeper one explores and the more vehemently these thoughts are spoken the better it gets. This genius does not hold back at all. This is poetry that can flatten a room if read aloud to be silenced and turned inward. I walked away from these poems feeling enlightened and humbled by there force and insight.
Once again, Franz Wright's poetry is just sublimely beautiful. Some of my favorites from this volume were:
I feel odd writing anything about this collection right now.

I have been away from the more literary world of words for a long time. Today, after a really rough stretch of work< I needed a little something for the soul.

So today, there was a spring air, a cold beer, and a touch of poetry. I had half-finished this collection some time ago and came back to it today, devouring what I had left.

I want to say something illuminating about this collection, but I don't feel like I have it in me right no
Aug 10, 2015 Alisha rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2015
Beautiful and thought-provoking.
My usual comment on poetry: I just don't get it. And, again with this collection, I just didn't get it. I don't know what these poems are about, what they're trying to say. They didn't say anything to me certainly. Maybe they concern things I don't care about; maybe they're too wrapped up in the author's private vision; or maybe I'm just too dense. Whatever the reason, I didn't get anything out of reading these. Done with the collection and done with poetry for the year.
I loved this book. Wright is both vulnerable and darkly hilarious; hearing God and God's intentions in silence, his own thoughts and beliefs echoing back.

The Choice

When you look at the sky, when you look at the starts, God is not

Someone in Hell is sitting beside you on the train.
Somebody burning unnoticed walks past in the street.

Sailors in snow__

God can do what is impossible, but
God can only do what is impossible.

Sad incurable gift.
My favorite was entitled "Ohio Sunflowerfield."

However, even this one, left me wanting more.

I'm not an eastern mystic, if I wasn't a Christian I'd be an eastern mystic, but I'd also be dead. Hope is a universal, yet it can only be found in Jesus, He who is the Resurrection and the Life.

In any case, Franz is a great writer, and I only wish he knew Jesus so that his poetry could be transformed into something so much more alive.

He is not silent.
Oct 23, 2009 Liam rated it 5 of 5 stars
Shelves: poetry
With each additional volume, I'm really getting into Franz's work. His religion and family interplay with sense of the human condition, it seems he may have been pretty poor, almost street poor at one time; or he's somewhat fascinated by the impoverished. Death is another obsession. God's silence occurs in several pieces as do other key words and phrases and I like these cross references.
I had the pleasure of seeing and hearing Wright read with my wife in Houston. This collection introduced me to his power and drew me in. He is a worth successor to his father as both a poet and a Pulitzer prize winner. These poems are startling and surprising. They have deep heard buried within surprising simplicity.
1st foray back into the world of poetry that I've neglected for way too long. Years it seems like. I really enjoyed this collection--the spirituality, darkness, and small pieces of humor that bobbed to the surface from time to time. "Night Walk" in part I: East Boston, 1996 was one of my favorites.
I saw Franzy read from this collection at the Sommerville Theater a few years back. Let me say: He is as absurdly charming and as equally entertaining in person as he is on the page. I've had a couple rounds with this book, and will most likely read it again.
christopher leibow
Though some of the poems were very good, the overall feeling of the book reminded me of a dimly lit laundromat in the middle of a Kansas winter, with the unbalanced spin cycle in one specific rusted washer thumping the ground. It didn't work for me.
Sometimes addicts merely replace one addiction (drugs/drink) with another (God), which means they just replaced A with B, and not that they have had some kind of deep religious experience or awakening. Just sayin'.
A. Kaluza
Wright had me at "Snowy light fills the room", and then kept me for days after I closed the book. I loved this collection, and would recommend it to anyone.
No real review of this one. It's a book that must be experienced--dark and deep and thought-provoking as all of Wright's work is.
Jun 07, 2008 Mia rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: poetry
Here is an unarmed (a disarmed!) poet. Another drink of springwater from Mr. Wright.
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Born in Vienna, Franz Wright is the author of fourteen collections of poetry. Walking to Martha's Vineyard (Knopf 2003) was awarded the Pulitzer Prize. His newest collections, God’s Silence, and Earlier Poems were published by Knopf in, 2006 & 2007. Wright’s other books include The Beforelife (2001), Ill Lit: New and Selected Poems (1998), Rorschach Test (1995), The Night World and the Word Ni ...more
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“The long silences need to be loved, perhaps more than the words which arrive to describe them in time.” 10 likes
“literature will lose, sunlight will win, don't worry.” 9 likes
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