Books

Books available at your local bookseller, major online retailers, and the above indie bookshops.

OH YOU ROBOT SAINTS!

“The truth is in the job, not the wound” is one of my favorite lines in Rebecca Morgan Frank’s daring Oh You Robot Saints!, a book in which the beauty, jealousy, and worship of the gods take center stage. Part of the precision of this book and every one of its lines has to do with Frank’s commitment to showing us tragedy as the Greeks would through her indomitable use of second person like a director giving instructions: “Fill the ark: start / with the giant flower / beetle . . .” And part of it has to do with full-on Sapphic tenderness: “The women I’ve loved and lived with are dead, / and today it felt like spring might return.” This volume proves Rebecca Morgan Frank is a poet of the exact and the harrowing. –Jericho Brown

We had always thought our art would be immortal,” muses the concluding poem of Oh You Robot Saints! , Rebecca Morgan Frank’s timely meditation on the complex work of making. Frank’s book reveals how the many kinds of poiesis we humans commit satisfy similar urges: we build so many lovely machines-out of cutting-edge composites, out of words, out of our own genetic material-each with the craving to expand beyond ourselves, to outrun our frail limits. Frank gazes directly at our compulsion to “build / a body that moves,” offering these poems as a kinetic example of their own argument. “To be true is to be an imitation,” Frank argues; painstaking, handmade, Frank’s clockwork poems strike true. –Kimberly Johnson

Rebecca Morgan Frank’s Oh You Robot Saints! wrangles with what it means to be a person by exploring the history of robotics in evocative detail. The poems wonder if robots—mechanical ones and spiritual ones—mimic creation itself. Poem after poem reveals profound and frightening thinking-through of using robots as a means to talk about more human things: fertility, mothers, and children (and their absences) and what sacrifices robots may make in their saintly and human forms. This is a weird and interesting book and you should read it. –Sean Singer

SOMETIMES WE’RE ALL LIVING IN A FOREIGN COUNTRY

“Frank … spellbinds in this shrewd collection about intimacy, salvation, and the rustic dilapidation of the American South.” –Publishers Weekly

“There’s something tenacious and fierce about this vivid book, with its spinning, Metaphysical metaphors, quick turns of line, and unpredictable, dynamic, monologues in the voices of dispossessed people and things.” –Katie Peterson

“So much happens in Morgan Frank’s intensely lyrical poems, accompanied by such subtle music and profound, often witty, meditations on love, loneliness, rapture and mortality. Sometimes We’re all Living in a Foreign Country is a beautiful book, one that asks us to see the everyday world anew, and discover in it marvelous strangeness.”–Kevin Prufer

THE SPOKES OF VENUS

“Whether the object is painting or dance, installations or music, Frank’s elegant, cerebral poems evoke all the senses in richly condensed lines: a syntax that fibrillates with radiant linguistic spokes — insights so fresh that that one can’t help but be amazed and instructed. The austere surfaces of this eloquent work ignite the imagination and entice readers to co-create the text. …Rebecca Morgan Frank’s poems have just that visionary freshness and strength: they share the power of all startlingly beautiful things. ” –Alice Fulton

“I don’t think I’ve read a book as unapologetically metaphysical as The Spokes of Venus since Heather McHugh’s early work. One feels everywhere in these poems the force of Morgan Frank’s insistent looking, tensile, witty, fiercely cool in its appraisals: “The truth is that there’s nothing in the room but us.”  Right, there we are—dead center.  Frank gets it, totally: the centripetal forces that whirl us there are awesome.”–David Rivard

LITTLE MURDERS EVERYWHERE

 “As for me, I was merely an accessory.”  In Rebecca Morgan Frank’s remarkable first book, the line that launches a story about feeding an injured raptor morphs hauntingly into ars poetica: “I was the dark room, the leather glove, the rope.”  And in between, the countless “little murders”  – the road kill, the rodents, the surplus chicks from a factory farm – that keep a red-tailed hawk alive.  Captured in this parable are both the ruthless devotion to beauty and the yet-more-ruthless devotion to clear-eyed rendering that make Little Murders Everywhere an extraordinary debut.  The elegant formal variations in these poems, the structuring alliterations, the density and precision of the figurative imagination would almost suffice on their own but, wonderfully, they have no need to do so.  They add up, as in all true poetry, to a way of seeing.” –Linda Gregerson

“Rebecca Morgan Frank’s arresting and unflinching poems show what can still be done with the bittersweet stuff of longing that gave the art of the lyric its original reason for being. Everywhere she turns her rapt attention – pensive elegies and laments, gnomic riffs on things lost and found in the naked city, limber sonnets on nettling sins of the spirit and the flesh – she’s in her element, taking the measure of desire in language honed to a glittering edge. “Go ahead, reinvent the wheel,” one mordant poem here begins, and so she does, daring you to see another soul at the white heat with a mind and music all her own.” –David Barber