Tag Archives: Frank Matagrano

National Poetry Month Spotlight: Frank Matagrano

Self Portrait with iPod

My song is the kind you love
***but would never admit
in mixed company. It’s like this
***in heaven, too, where the lung creaks
open like a rickety screen door

and an old man spends the afternoon
***walking in and out,
sometimes with a glass of iced tea,
***sometimes with a harmonica,
and every song he plays is called

fountain water or light falling
***through holes
in a ceiling made of bark, branch
***and leaf.  I call them
freedom vents.  Sometimes it’s near

impossible not to break
***into chorus, missing the high
note like most lovers do.
***I used to date a girl who called this
“our _______.” The neighbor had one

he played loud enough
***for the police to warn him
their next visit will be very different.
***I sing the village, ready
to burn anyone who works

in the medium of witch, I sing
***the allegorical symbol
of the French Republic – a mother
***nursing her children, ready
to take back Paris.  I am about to start

something marvelous, marvelous
***and true.  My face has color
for the first time
***this season.  From the great of my mouth
to the ends of it, a line goes out.

Poem first appeared in Ninth Letter.

Q: What is your writing process?

A: The last few years have been like this: I will spend months at a time not writing a word, not even thinking about poetry, then one day I will begin a mad fit of writing and re-writing and editing and so on for an extended period of time, and then it stops.

Q: If you could go on a one-week writing retreat anywhere in the world, where would you travel?

A: London.  And I would want two weeks, not one.

Frank Matagrano is the author of I Can Only Go As Fast As the Guy in Front of Me (Black Lawrence Press).  He currently resides in Chicago, Illinois.

National Poetry Month Spotlight: Frank Matagrano

Allowing the Body to Finally Speak

This request will be in the voice
***of a propaganda film asking
the country for nylons and chocolate
***bars, a wish that will trail off
like music from a car window,
***like foreplay, like a series

of horseshoes and hand grenades.
***I am partial to the idea
of making love as a means
***of stalling death, of allowing
the body to finally speak

on the spirit’s behalf: I want
***to be touched by a stranger
in the back seat of a car
***so that there is a darkness
to fear again. Boo: that’s my new term
***of endearment. It’s Cajun.

(Poem first published in 32 Poems.)

Q: Where is your favorite place to write?
A: At home in close proximity to the coffee pot.
Q: Do you remember the first poem you read that really blew your mind?
A: John Milton, “Sonnet XXIII: Methought I Saw My Late Espousèd Saint.”  The last line is nothing short of murder, still knocks me off my feet after all these years.
Q: What is the most interesting thing that has happened to you in the last 12 months?
A: In August, I spent a lovely week in London during which I took a long drive to see Stonehenge first hand.  Sorry, but it’s just a bunch of rocks.

Frank Matagrano is the author of I Can Only Go As Fast As the Guy in Front of Me (Black Lawrence Press).  A chapbook of his poems, Sagging from the Weight of Hope, was recently published by Pudding House Publications.  He currently lives in Chicago, Illinois.

National Poetry Month Wrap-Up

As April draws to a close, we’d like to extend our heartfelt thanks to the Black Lawrence Press authors who participated in our National Poetry Month feature:

David Rigsbee, “Pilot House
Marcela Sulak, “Pomelo With Fallen Angel
Shelley Puhak, “War
T.J. Beitelman, “The Inciting Incident
Laura McCullough, “The Ellisionist
Jason Tandon, “Work
Abayomi Animashaun, “A New Religion
Carol Guess, “Kicks
Joe Wilkins, “A Roadside Diner in Iowa
Lisa Fay Coutley, “In the Carnival of Breathing
Matthew Gavin Frank, “After Il Sergente Serbo e Sua Moglie
Michele Battiste, “Nobody Leaves
Katharine Rauk, “How Many Weeks are in a Day and How Many Years in a Month?
Brent Goodman, “Another Prayer
Stefi Weisburd, “Behind My Ear is a Little Palace in Broad Daylight
Larry Matsuda, “Arc de Triomphe, 2003 Invasion of Iraq
Sandra Kolankiewicz, “Winter Sonata
Frank Matagrano, “Waiting with Alexandria for Her Mom
Hayden Saunier, “Beach
Kevin Pilkington, “Milk
Michael Hemmingson, “Sedona
Erica Wright, “Reservoir
Keith Taylor, “At the Living Creche
James Reidel, “Ave Maria afarensis
Helen Marie Casey, “Mary Dyer’s Courtship
Brad Ricca, “Workshop
Daniele Pantano, “The Oldest Hands in the World
Julia Cohen, “Panic at My Wilderness
Rachel Galvin, “In Cambium Lucida

And most importantly, thank you to everyone who read, shared, and commented on these poems — you’ve made this event a big success!

National Poetry Month Spotlight: Frank Matagrano


I didn’t take the bus to Blooming Glen, Pennsylvania and sit
with Alexandria in a booth at Ruby Red’s for nothing.
She had no idea how much I adored the ride – I carried
two books with me, one of them a dictionary, I didn’t check
a word in it. I recited Lincoln. Of everyone that passed,
the kid in a mini-van made a point; with a finger he told me

to fuck myself. I think the white collar and the blue
tie pissed him off. I was trying to give one life a rest
and resume the other one, my top button was undone,
there’s a start. I didn’t understand how to open the window
in case of an emergency. I followed the lines along my palm,
one went back to New York, God knows where

the rest went. The other book had everything I needed
to know about protest – one man stitched his lips shut,
another tried to drive a nail through his own palm;
they were heading to ministry; no one there could be reached
for comment. I want to describe the mouth as “tender,”
I mean well, there aren’t too many other ways

to explain the white sores along the gum that come
with a denture, my Four score and seven years slurred,
the tongue caught in a small nitch between the plate
and the roof whenever it shifted to roll an “r.” I loved
one phrase in particular, I was attached.

Q: Do you remember where you were and what you were doing on the day you wrote the above poem?

A: I was living in New York City at the time and this poem was written in my apartment, but I could not tell you the year, let alone what I did that day. At a minimum, I am fairly certain the day started with a cup of coffee and a cigarette.

Q: What is the last book you’ve read that made you want to grab a pen and write?

A: Wartime: Understanding and Behavior in the Second World War by Paul Fussell.

Q: What is the most sublime meal you’ve ever eaten?

A: Most recently, a sausage pizza from Big Jim’s in New Jersey with my father.

Frank Matagrano’s poetry collection I Can Only Go As Fast As the Guy in Front of Me is available for purchase at Black Lawrence Press.

BLP Celebrates National Poetry Month

Black Lawrence Press will celebrate National Poetry Month by featuring a poem by one of our authors every day on the blog. Each poem will be accompanied by a short Q&A with the author. Participating authors include:

Abayomi Animashaun
Michele Battiste
T.J. Beitelman
Helen Marie Casey
Lisa Fay Coutley
Matthew Gavin Frank
Rachel Galvin
Brent Goodman
Carol Guess
Sandra Kolankiewicz
Frank Matagrano
Lawrance Matsuda
Laura McCullough
Kevin Pilkington
Shelley Puhak
Katharine Rauk
James Reidel
Brad Ricca
David Rigsbee
Hayden Saunier
Marcela Sulak
Jason Tandon
Keith Taylor
Stefi Weisburd
Joe Wilkins
Erica Wright

So be sure to check the BLP blog every day in the month of April for some great reading!