Reading Matters

Pulitzer-winning poet Franz Wright dies at 62 in Massachusetts

Pulitzer-winning poet Franz Wright died way too early, leaving me yearning for more of his stark words, his letters to his “inner no one.”

Son of the Pulitzer-winning poet James Wright, Franz Wright died of lung cancer last week at age 62 in Waltham, Mass., according to the Associated Press. All his life, he pined for that father, who left the family when Wright was 8.

My favorite of his collections is the 2011 “Wheeling Motel” (Knopf, $19 paper), filled with poignant poems of cunning and complaint.


Dawns when I can’t sleep I walk,

in thought, all the way

around Walden.

My father loved Thoreau, I wish

he could have walked there

with me once,

my hungover Virgil. Lying in bed

with a big ax

lodged in my head, I still hear him

as if from the next room

bumping into things and cursing.

Give us this day, he mutters,

our daily stone. Nice.

Can’t blame him, though. This morning

can’t sleep for missing him.