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God's Silence

4.10  ·  Rating details ·  444 ratings  ·  44 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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Average rating 4.10  · 
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 ·  444 ratings  ·  44 reviews

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Michael McGrinder
May 29, 2014 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: poetry lovers, readers of poetry
NOTE. I was unaware when I wrote the following review that Franz Wright had died in 2015 at the age of 62. Had I known, I might have written the review somewhat differently. I choose now to let it stand as it is. I am, meanwhile, saddened that we have lost such a wonderful poet.

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 vo
Claudia Savage
Jun 08, 2009 rated it really liked it
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
Sep 01, 2008 rated it really liked it
"I lived as a monster, my only/hope is to die like a child."

His honesty is brutal.
May 16, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
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
John Pappas
Jul 27, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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.
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
Jan 21, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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
May 18, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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.
Anne Kat Alexander
May 11, 2012 rated it it was amazing
And occasionally I weep to think of how one could write such beautiful tortures.
Jun 25, 2009 rated it really liked it
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
Jun 13, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
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.
Timothy Sikes
Jul 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
Franz Wright certainly knows how to brood!

Wright fills his book of poems with some of the darker aspects of life - death, addiction, insomnia, and (of course) God’s silence. Despite his focus on affliction and misery, Wright is able to relatably capture the beauty to be found in both the highs and lows of the common life. While his focus is often on anguish, he’s not relegated to be despondent -- I found Wright to shine brightest when his hope took center stage. And by offering his hope right al
Liz VanDerwerken
Sep 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I have been reading this collection in bits and pieces over the last six months because it is so spectacular, I have to take it in small doses. Franz Wright’s background fascinates me, and the way in which he writes about God and things of a spiritual nature is unlike any other writer I’ve read. Many of his poems are so subtle I’ve only discovered their biblical allusion or subject after rereading. His work allows for probing thought and for long reflection, which are qualities I always love in ...more
Ellie Duhon
Jan 12, 2020 rated it really liked it
I am not an avid poetry reader, nor am I usually a review-leaver, but this book was too good not to say anything. Franz Wright moved me to tears, more than once. His fearlessness to write about human struggles that we all go through, in addition to thoughtful concepts such as Heaven, Hell, and fate was remarkable. I found myself dog-earring every other page!

“So we sit there
the mountain
and me, Li Po
said, until only the mountain

“The long silences need to be loved, perhaps mor
Dec 01, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2013, poetry, reviewed
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
Mar 16, 2010 rated it really liked it
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 now.
Aug 23, 2008 rated it did not like it
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.
May 22, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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.
Oct 23, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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.
Jan 19, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
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.
Sep 19, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 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.
Feb 05, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favourites, poetry
Once again, Franz Wright's poetry is just sublimely beautiful. Some of my favorites from this volume were:
A reading of Arkansas Good Friday: ...more
May 18, 2012 rated it really liked it
some really great poems, but all in all as a book I thought it was ok.
A. Kaluza
May 05, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry, books-i-own
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.
Feb 10, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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.
Dec 20, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
His poetry is hit or miss for me...when it misses it is forgettable, when it hits it is haunting.
Sep 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
Nobody has called for some time.
(I was always the death of the party.)

In a way that leaves
a scar, I
no longer wish to love.

(Come a hairbreadth closer
to this shining
apparition and be consumed in flame.)

I'm still alone with all the world's
beauty and cruelty.

And I recall
here -
what is time? When
is the present?

I'm still here alone in the night hours with everyone.

And everything that once was
infinitely far
and unsayable is now
and right here in the room.
- Progress, pg. 16
Dec 25, 2017 rated it liked it
I feel awkward for still not knowing how to take in poetry. More than any other reading, it feels more like browsing in a grocery store or some orchard, picking and placing foods in my basket, and if the basket holds a certain amount of weight vs what I've left behind, then I can say it was good. But it all gives me a sense of having no right to judge in a way I don't have with non-poetry (even biographies and memoirs which can be just as personal, if not more.)

I like Wright's style. I appreciat
Andrew Tucker
May 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
Great collection. Like *Walking to Martha’s Vineyard*, *God’s Silence* has captivating and devastating moments. Though it is hard to measure against Martha’s Vineyard, considering how perfect that collection felt to me, this collection is certainly worthy of reading again and again. It might just be my own experience, or my next-to-nothing knowledge of poetry, but Wright’s poems grip me like few others do.
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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 Night ...more

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“The long silences need to be loved, perhaps more than the words which arrive to describe them in time.” 18 likes
“And let me ask you this: the dead,
where aren't they?”
More quotes…