Magicians, wig makers, sculptors, perfumers, choreographers, and composers all help conjure the worlds of Frank’s second collection, The Spokes of Venus. These poems offer a landscape shaped by the tensions between the act of making and the art of observing. If music and art are the sisters of poetry, this collection is a chorus—a glorious one—of siblings arguing and singing.
“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
“Astronomer Percival Lowell saw “spokes” on the planet Venus that proved to be a reflection of his own eye. The gorgeously made poems in The Spokes of Venus suggest the self-reflexivity of the beholder and the nuances of perception: the slippage between object and viewer — whether the site of scrutiny is planet or painting. The process of experiencing the world deeply, of venturing beyond the literal, beneath the surface, becomes a form of love in these brilliant meditations on process and creativity. 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. Ekphrastic art should enrich or extend the work it considers: “A god can see something / that does not yet exist in the world.” Rebecca Morgan Frank’s poems have just that visionary freshness and strength: they share the power of all startlingly beautiful things. –Alice Fulton
“Rebecca Morgan Frank’s dazzling new collection leaps into the world of art making, inspired at first by the 19th century astronomer Percival Lowell’s absurd insistence that he saw, through his own telescope, canals on the planet Venus—what he was seeing was the reflection of his own veinous eye! From this “creative” mistake, Frank moves into poems in conversations with artists living and dead, poems that turn us upside down and shake the reasonable dust of art history out of our pockets. They whirl into their subjects in an irresistible frenzy of language and music.”–Gail Mazur
By bringing poetry into conversation with art, Frank invites readers to broaden their field of vision, and Frank’s inquisitive, meditative tone makes The Spokes of Venus a pleasure to read and contemplate. Despite the book’s final assertion that “it’s best not to look into the nuclear burn,” the reader leaves this poetry collection with a fresher sense of sight, one that looks to experience everyday life in terms of the musical, theatrical, and artistic.
“By bringing poetry into conversation with art, Frank invites readers to broaden their field of vision, and Frank’s inquisitive, meditative tone makes The Spokes of Venus a pleasure to read and contemplate. Despite the book’s final assertion that “it’s best not to look into the nuclear burn,” the reader leaves this poetry collection with a fresher sense of sight, one that looks to experience everyday life in terms of the musical, theatrical, and artistic.”–Aza Pace, Gulf Coast
“These poems are full-bodied and vivacious, tensely strung, simmering with life and sharp intellect. They are complex, delicate yet jagged and ready to cut. They deny easy interpretation and are all the better for it. If, as the book suggests, there is no one way of reading, why should there be one way of existing in the world? These poems remind the reader that our role is never singular; we are neither purely the creator nor purely the object.” –Lisa McMurtray, The Clarion Ledger
Sample a poem from the collection over at The Missouri Review Online.
The Spokes of Venus (Carnegie Mellon University Press) is available to order online through indiebound, UPNE, and the big online retailers, and, of course, by order or on the shelves at your local independent bookstore.
ISBN: 978-0887486067/ Paperback/ $15.95