Monday, February 10, 2020

Divided - Linda Frank (A Buckrider Book/Wolsak & Wynn)

Today's book of poetry:
Divided.  Linda Frank.  A Buckrider Book/Wolsak & Wynn.  Hamilton, Ontario.  2018.

Book Cover: Divided, Linda Frank

Clearly Linda Frank's poetry posse includes a world class botonist and a scientist with an eidetic memory.  How does Today's book of poetry know such things?  The answer is quite simple;  no one poetry brain could pull these poems together.  These poems require multiple experts and fathoms upon fathoms of research.

Divided is that completely unexpected cornacopia of delights.  Frank's poems pass all of our poetry tests.  Linda Frank is both remarkbaly insightful and unimaginably thorough.  It isn't enough that her understanding of human nature, emotion and character is illuminating;  Frank sees the big picture so clearly, she can use the various languages of animals and insects, she is able to use their knowledge.  The resulting poems delight.

Thomas, our new Assistant Editor, found Linda Frank's Divided "an absolutely compelling read" and Today's book of poetry couldn't agree more.

Von Frisch's Ten Little Housemates

The housefly he calls a trim little creature. A man
would have to leap from the Westminister Bridge

to the top of Big Ben to compete with the flea.
All living creatures are equal in the great law

of life, he writes. Even bedbugs. Lice can carry
two thousand time their body weight with their forefeet.

Cockroaches are a community that has come down
in the world. Silverfish, entirely harmles sugar guests.

The spider's actions differ in detail according to the weaver's
character. In gnats, the organs of flight have reached a high 

level of perfection. We cannot blame the tick for her bloodthirstiness.
Anyone who has to hatch a few thousand eggs deserves a good meal.

Moths are useful scavengers. What else would happen
to all the decaying hair and feathers that disnintergrate so slowly?

Von Frisch's little housemates are extraordinary, in their own way
exceptional. At the end of each affectionate chapter

he recommends in equally good-natured tone and detail
how each could best be exterminated.


Today's book of poetry had some standards blasting out of the box in our office this morning, Coltrane's A Love Supreme, Anita Baker, some Gil Scott Heron.  That sort of tone.

Divided is presented in four sections which include the closest inspections of the beetle, anthropod and arachnid worlds, accounts of women who were pioneers in their scientific fields, accounts of the first balloon flight (untethered) and an account of the first descents into our oceans.  Linda Frank even shares some elements of her own story.  

What Today's book of poetry enjoy most is the consistency of Frank's voice, she can hold a note.  Linda Frank's poems all come at the reader in the same way, as revelations.  Frank uncovers truths we previously never questioned.  All of this good.  But for you poetry monsters the most important question is "does it burn?"

Damned straight.  Today's book of poetry has never seen this particular manner of cooking before but we'd sure like to get our hands on the recipe.  Frank goes all poetry-Julia Child poetry wise and botanically bent.  Divided not only makes the reader feel smart and smarter, Divided makes the reader truly curious.

Falling Stars

Every night up on the flat roof
            over the hayloft

the great man's sister
            with her telescope, hunting
                       for wanderers
messengers that enter the solar system.

Every night up on the flat roof
            over the hayloft
                       in thrall to the polished lens
sweeping the sky for comets.

The great man's sister
                      minded the heavens.

No longer such a lonely thing
                       to open one's eyes.
Every impulse of light exploding.

Only thirty "hairy stars" ever recorded
            and she, the Lady's Comet Hunter

alone and free up on the flat roof
                                    over the hayloft
found eight in a dozen years.

She knew those distant stars ceased to exist
           millions of years ago.
Her starry night, her stellar landscape
                        not really there at all.

Light travels long
            after the heavenly body is gone.

Her sky, so full of ghosts.


Today's book of poetry so enjoyed Linda Frank's Divided.  We've tasked Thomas, our new Assistant Editor with procurring Frank's three other poetry titles.  Poetry this exciting and enlighting is juat a full stop pleasure but it doesn't happen by accident.  Today's book of poetry would bet our fortune that Frank's other poetry titles delight as well.

Frank invites the reader into gardens of wonder, deep into the dark sea, and delightfully into an ocean of tulips that decorate an Ottoman rulers pleasure and obsession.  These are all worthy adventures, experienced through a particularly sharp lens.

Today's book of poetry can only begin to imagine what Linda Frank's reading list must look like.  These poems required both difficult magic to conger and encyclopedic dexterity to imagine.  This sort of mastery can only from a poet a the top of the game.


The Devil's darning needle, ear sewer, eye poker, ear cutter,
                 eye snatcher. Horse stringer. Troll's spindle.
                                     The adder's servant, it follows
snakes around and stitches them up when they are injured.

August god, lady of the weeping willow, widow skimmer,
             water witch. The Devil's little horse sent by Satan
                         to create chaos
                                                 to steal people's souls.


Here is the new deal.  Today's book of poetry will personaly vouch for any purchase of Linda Frank's Divided.  If any of you poetry monsters buy this book and are dissapointed - you have our address, send your copy to us and we'll refund your money.

That's how good Linda Frank's burn feels.

Image result for linda frank photo

Linda Frank
(Photo curtesy of Wolsak & Wynn)

Linda Frank was born in Montreal and now lives in Hamilton, Ontario. A retired professor from Mohawk College, she has written three books of poetry: Cobalt Moon Embrace, Insomnie Blues and Kahlo: The World Split Open, which was shortlisted for the Pat Lowther Award. She is a past winner of the Banff Centre's Bliss Carman Poetry Award and has been shortlisted for the National Magazine Awards.

Divided, we fall ... for Linda Frank’s poetry
“Wonderstruck by nature and science, [Frank] uses them beautifully in this book to draw out the most myriad and finely observed insights, on everything from sexual politics and bedroom intimacy (or the lack of it) to species extinction, the swiftness of life, religion, control, capture, the call of the wild and children."
     - Jeff Mahoney, The Hamilton Spectator

4 Women with New Books of Poems!
"This is a vital text as there is not a single piece in here that doesn’t consider other life forms than the human. […] These pieces are more than worth an embedding in your empathetic core."
     - Catherine Owen, Marrow Reviews

A Review of Amanda Jernigan's Years, Months, and Days and Linda Frank's Divided
"None of [her] interpretations are ever in conflict with one another. Rather, they enhance an already dense set of poems by offering sundry entry points. In a time where much popular poetry resembles candid notebook entries or performative tantrums, Frank's poems arrive refreshingly and consolingly classroom-ready."
     - Zachary Thompson, Hamilton Review of Books


Poems cited here are assumed to be under copyright by the poet and/or publisher.  They are shown here for publicity and review purposes.  For any other kind of re-use of these poems, please contact the listed publishers for permission.

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