Black Lawrence Press
April 12, 2014

National Poetry Month Spotlight: Matthew Gavin Frank

Here at Black Lawrence Press we are celebrating National Poetry Month with a poem a day, featuring a total of 30 authors from our list. Today’s featured poet is Matthew Gavin Frank, author of Sagittarius Agitprop and The Morrow Plots.



The tornado inside Andromeda laid seeds
of clover in the sky. We took the stubble
and dissolved it in red wine, went into
the basement of the Genomic Biology Building
for asylum.

Helene had gone to a funeral that Sunday—
the body of her first lover covered
in tobacco. She said
that in burial
the screws of the corpse meet a pressure
of any blood not cleaned out,
they shoot into dirt like seeds. The arms
quickly flare like a chicken’s,
and in the downdraft of soil
the teeth clench as if to keep
the earth out. He was finally rhetorical, she said.

Ernie spat on the floor, unwrapped the stolen corn
from the napkin, saying, “You saw
no such thing, Helene.” When I was small,
Helene said, I stood with my father
at Mount Hope Cemetery. He was fresh
with mint and antebellum. The crops
were rotting because of the windy season,
we pricked our fingers and let them drip
onto newspaper. Alice, in a complicated
white dress, with the tornado dropping,
feigned a seizure and wiped
her cheek through the blood.
The rows of clay idols watched

and started to tip in the wind. Over us,
these shuddering memorials:
A rooster smothering a swallow
and behind us, two dogs
Matthew Gavin Frank
tugging-of-war with a chrysalis,
and an angel cradling a squirrel
between her breasts. She watched
the rooster tie the swallow in a knot
and in the quake, began
to step over the wind like a plot.

from The Morrow Plots (Black Lawrence Press, 2013)


Author Photo linocut

Matthew Gavin Frank is the author of the nonfiction books Preparing the Ghost: An Essay Concerning the Giant Squid and Its First Photographer (forthcoming July 2014 from W.W. Norton: Liveright), Pot Farm, and Barolo, the poetry books The Morrow Plots, Warranty in Zulu, and Sagittarius Agitprop, and the chapbooks Four Hours to Mpumalanga and Aardvark. He teaches creative writing in the MFA Program at Northern Michigan University, where he is the Nonfiction Editor of Passages North. This winter, he prepared his first batch of whitefish liver ice cream. It paired well with onion bagels.