Tuesday, April 5, 2011

National Poetry Month: CA Conrad

from The Book of Frank
CA Conrad

Frank’s sister grew long blue feathers

she said it was worse than cutting teeth

she spent a month screaming in the cave
pushing them out

Frank would lie in bed at night
touching his own back


praying it wouldn’t
come to him

but the day his sister flew to the house
he stood by the window in awe
giant blue spread coming in across the lake

he heard the hunter’s shot before she did

Frank remembers
shirts of buried generals
flying in formation
over schoolyards

blowing wasps from sleeves

Frank knows a
who wonders
about her old

she was exotic company

her mouth
full of mouse

Frank never heard a word
his gaze
steady on the mouse
disappearing to reappear
with every syllable

he prayed
to God she’d
marry him

but late in the night
she touched his hand

Frank recoiled
and realized
it was really
the mouse
in her mouth
he loved

From a review by Mary Wilson at Make: A Chicago Literary Magazine: The Book of Frank (Wave Books, second edition 2010) collects sixteen years worth of CA Conrad's semi-autobiographical “Frank” poems into one volume, which includes previously unpublished poems and a new afterword by Eileen Myles. Frank is Conrad’s alter ego in the vein of John Berryman’s “Huffy Henry” of The Dream Songs, a third person embodiment of Conrad’s psychic unease. Conrad was raised in rural Pennsylvania and “escaped” to Philadelphia in 1986, where he met a number of artists and writers, including writer and publisher Gil Ott, who soon became something of a mentor to him. Ott was at that time publishing writers like Charles Bernstein and Bob Perelman in his magazine Paper Air, and through him Conrad quickly found his contemporaries. He is now hosting poetry readings, designing and leading “(Soma)tic poetry” workshops, giving tarot readings (he’s interested in the occult) and writing with and about fellow poets in the group blog PhillySound.

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