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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Wright brings ‘miraculous’ new poems to Poetry Center

    Franz Wright is something of an anomaly in 21st century America. The author of several books and winner of, among other awards, the PEN/Voelcker Award for Poetry and the Pulitzer Prize, Wright has managed to make a living and a name for himself as a poet.

    Wright acknowledges how lucky he is to be doing what he loves in what he calls the “”savagely competitive world”” of poetry, which often lacks both money and prestige.

    “”You must avoid telling anyone you’re a poet in America because they’ll look at you like you’re insane,”” he said.

    Wright will read at the UA Poetry Center on Thursday at 8 p.m., and give an open-topic colloquium Friday at 4 p.m., at which people are invited to ask questions.

    Wright’s poems, which novelist Denis Johnson has called “”tiny jewels shaped by blunt, ruined fingers — miraculous gifts,”” are not to be missed. Though he just released a book, “”Wheeling Motel,”” in 2009, Wright said he will read mostly newer material. He just completed a book of 60 prose pieces, which he says “”covers the whole spectrum of what language can do.”” He calls these new pieces “”the lyrical absolute.””

    Because his poems are always works in progress, expect Wright to interrupt his reading to make changes to the pieces as he thinks of them.

    “”I’m living out these pieces right now as I read them,”” Wright said. “”I’m very excited.””

    Wright is also thrilled to be reading in Arizona. “”I’m so excited, I cannot tell you,”” he said. “”I can’t wait to see that desert. I’ll probably never want to leave.””

    It was the discovery of a new place’s beauty that led Wright to write his first poem. When Wright was in his mid-teens visiting the Napa Valley area, he said he woke up one morning, went outside and found the poem.

    “”I experienced this state of ecstasy that I had never experienced, that I knew I had to find again,”” Wright said.

    “”From that moment, I vowed I was going to become a writer or die.”” He described writing poetry as “”like being in love, like the world changes.””

    Wright says this hunger to write is the only thing that can lead young poets to any kind of success. “”You cannot learn how to write poetry except by doing it,”” he said.

    “”You must generate inspiration out of love and enthusiasm for the art.””

    He also cautions that the life of a poet can be lonely.

    “”It requires a tremendous capacity for solitude,”” he said. “”Writing poetry is done in solitude, like committing crimes.””

    At age 57, Wright feels he has finally discovered how to write a poem. “”Everything comes daily, like going down in a mine and going to work,”” he said.

    And while he lives for his work, Wright cautions budding poets, “”If you love (poetry) and must have it more than life itself, go for it. If not, tread carefully.””

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