Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Franz Wright recently collaborated with Los Angeles musicians/producers Daniel Ahearn (Ill Lit) and Michael Rozon (Brazzaville, Melvins) to produce Readings from Wheeling Motel, a musical exploration of the poet's new work. The New York Times Book Review has already praised Wheeling Motel, Wright’s tenth collection of poetry, as "uningratiating, bumptiously witty...and routinely surprising," and this marriage of Wright’s poetry and Ahearn and Rozon’s music is sure to cross the boundaries of literature and music and appeal to fans of both.
Wright himself recites the selection of poems amidst the original music Ahearn and Rozon produced in collaboration with six other musicians: Josh Grange, Michael Whitmore, Eric Wood, Mindy Gaspar, Aaron Embry, and David J. Don’t expect violin crescendos or bongos playing in the background here; the music, directly inspired by the poetry itself, serves as a dreamy counterpoint to Wright’s distinctively husky voice. This project demonstrates Wright’s status not only as an artist but also as an inspiration, offering us an opportunity to experience this world-class poet in a uniquely personal and direct manner.
You can listen to “Wheeling Motel” and “Day One,” here or watch this Youtube clip of Wright reading “Night Flight Turbulence,” all of which are featured on the Readings from Wheeling Motel record. Wright’s recitations were all recorded in his home, as the Youtube video shows. I, for one, was intrigued by his flowered wallpaper and the CDs, papers, and books spread in disarray on his carpet.
Readings from Wheeling Motel has been released in digital form only and is available now through iTunes, Amazon and Bandcamp.