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Franz Wright, Poet and Muse

Franz Wright, winner of this year's Pulitzer Prize for poetry, is the son of a Pulitzer Prize-winning poet. The late James Wright won the award in 1972.

NPR's Scott Simon talks with Wright about his relationship with his father, who died in 1980, and some of his more recent poetry. The 2003 collection Walking to Martha's Vineyard won Franz Wright him the Pulitzer.

Wright also discusses the importance of his work with the mentally ill. The poet went through his own battles with depression, alcoholism and drug abuse, and feels strongly that his experience can help those who feel isolated and alone in their illness, as he once did. Wright says his poetry was "the cure" for his depression.

The conversation is joined by Daniel Ahearn, whose rock band, ill lit, is named after a collection of Wright's poetry. Ahearn, his friends and bandmantes have all been influenced by the poet's work. Wright and Ahearn have met and Wright is a fan of the band's music, calling it "sophisticated and catchy."

Ahearn describes Wright's poetry as "a gift to humanity" for its ability to heal through expression.

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Scott Simon is one of America's most admired writers and broadcasters. He is the host of Weekend Edition Saturday and is one of the hosts of NPR's morning news podcast Up First. He has reported from all fifty states, five continents, and ten wars, from El Salvador to Sarajevo to Afghanistan and Iraq. His books have chronicled character and characters, in war and peace, sports and art, tragedy and comedy.
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