The Beforelife

Product Details
Knopf Publishing Group
Publish Date
5.54 X 8.24 X 0.3 inches | 0.27 pounds

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About the Author
Franz Wright, the son of the poet James Wright, was born in Vienna in 1953 and grew up in the Northwest, the Midwest, and northern California. His most recent works include Ill Lit: Selected & New Poems and an expanded edition of translations entitled The Unknown Rilke. He has been the recipient of two National Endowment for the Arts grants, a Whiting Fellowship, and the PEN/Voelcker Award for Poetry, among other honors. He lives in Waltham, Massachusetts, with his wife, Elizabeth.
"This luminous, courageous book is about all of us--about our daily torment and redemption, which we dare not speak even to our souls. But Wright has done so."

--Olga Broumas, author of
Rave: Poems, 1975-1999

"These poems break me; they're like jewels shaped by blunt, ruined fingers--miraculous gifts. At any one time only a handful of genuine poets reside on the planet. I consider Franz Wright to be one of these, and I'm grateful that we have him among us."

---Denis Johnson

"Writers who are genuinely original, who beat their own path, make up a kind of visionary company, to which Franz Wright, with this new book, must clearly be admitted. These poems seem haunted by their own dark imaginings, yet at surprising moments turn all of a sudden humorous, if mordantly so. Reading them will train readers to stay alert for whatever devastating surprises may be coming up next."

---Donald Justice

"In a language waking from delirium, these astonishing poems offer---in their spare, raw, and pure lyric clarity---the prayers of madness and the light of its aftermath. Wright is a poet apart in his gifts and his courage."

---Carolyn Forche

"Intriguing and always accessible, with no 'irrelevant / lies, ' this book will expand the audience for poetry by showing readers that, in spite of stunning obstacles, it is always 'possible to live.'"
--Library Journal

"In these short meditations of anguish and hope, Wright achieves the clarity of 'seeing, ' and a hard-won wisdom as well."--Kirkus Reviews

" 'Beforelife': the word is so striking that the halting suspence of a double-crostic puzzle overhangs the book, as each poem individually withholds final definition. These poems brilliantly duplicate the willfulness and self-spite of the drinker's impulse ... they're mostly miniatures, the beginnings or endings of Hopperesque stories with a European gloss, their diction mixing mid-American colloquial speech and turns that evoke out-of-context translations."--Elizabeth Macklin, The New York Times Book Review