Tuesday, January 20, 2015

'E adesso sul finire del round' by Mario Luzi trans. Nicholas Benson

And now at the end of the round,
he leans on the ropes,
he goes down hard,
he, the giant, first 
precisely assailed on each flank,
his face mashed, pummeled in all his flesh:
and now here it is, leaping to action,
shuddering from its own 
sudden transformation,
the arena resounds: fixes
a single, terrible 
pupil upon him, holds him there,
the evil eye, 
to the matt,
down for the count,
without mercy counted down.
                                             And the other,
still caged, guard position relaxed,
yet chained in the mail
of battle, curtailed — while the forcefield 
of undiminished energy vibrates
all around him — and there
left alone
suspended over the black abyss,
on the verge of plunging 
into the dark trench
of sweat and spit, into the churning fire
of violence unexpressed...

he’s done. Each of them are.
Born of struggle,
struck down at its end: cruelly, at once. 

(from “Per il battesimo dei nostri frammenti” (1978-1984), in Tutte le poesie, Milano: Garzanti, 1988. pp. 516-517)

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

from David Shulman's Spring, Heat, Rains

I dream, oddly, of the Greek poem inscribed on the wall of the burial cave at Beit Guvrin, south of Jerusalem:

Nothing else remains that I can do for you,
or that will pleasure you.
I am sleeping with someone else, but it is you
I love, dearest to me of all.
In the name of Aphrodite, I am happy about one thing,
that your cloak has been left to me as a pledge.
But I flee, I permit you
expanses of freedom.
Do anything you desire, do not strike the wall,
it only makes noise.
We will motion to each other, this will be
the sign between us.

A woman, apparently, speaks to her dead lover. I carry this poem with me in my wallet. Often, when I read it out loud, people refuse to believe it was written two thousand years ago. Amiel sent me the original last year; the translation is faithful, even the 'expanses of freedom.'

David Shulman, Spring, Heat, Rains. A South Indian Diary (The U of Chicago P, 2009), p. 7.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Tradurre poesia è un umile servizio, da fare in punta di piedi, sapendo bene che ogni traduzione invecchia, mostra dopo alcuni anni le rughe del tempo, mentre il testo originale rimane là, nella sua intatta bellezza.

-Antonia Arslan, "Il bisogno di tradurre poesia," tradurre. pratiche teorie strumenti. numero 7 (autunno 2014). 

Friday, October 31, 2014


Check out new work by Mebane Robertson, poems by Luca Visentini translated from the Italian by Natasha Senjanović, a conversation with artist Jason Wallengren, Anna Maria Cossiga's latest Letter from Rome, and bracing new work by Robert Margolis, all on the new frankmatter, here.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Poems by Virginia Dodenhoff

Someone told me once that the reason we live on this earth is to find happiness, bliss, nirvana.
People say that happiness does not exist.
But my friend said he found it the other day when he looked into the eyes of the girl he loved.
Some kid was laughing.
Is that not happiness?
Happiness is freedom.
It’s letting go.
This world is hard.
We do what we don’t want to do. 
That’s how the world works.
Life isn’t easy.
Life isn’t fair.
Those who work their asses off win.
They get what they want.
People who give in will lose. 
They will lose all that they have.
“What is happiness?”
That’s what they’ll ask.
“I don’t this there is such thing as ‘happiness.’”
But that’s because they’re lazy.
I’ve heard it said that if you just say “yes,” you can figure it out later.
People constantly do things they don’t want to do.
Will that lead to happiness, bliss, nirvana?

Carrying things

Sure, I carry things.
I always have a Bible, a pen, a journal.
Maybe some chapstick
Some mints.
My phone, my sunglasses, my hopes.
A book my friend suggested to me.
My past.
My future.
I also tend to carry a water bottle and my keys.
I like having those things that make your chopsticks work without trying.
Regret, guilt, temptation.
Every now and then I’ll bring my laptop with me.
How you call me “fat” almost everyday.
I also like to bring some mascara.
The Hobbit, because I started it last March and I still have yet to finish it.
I carry my wallet,
It’s filled with money, coins, a smoothie punch card I use at the gym when I get protein shakes.
My Prayer box.
Another pen.
A pencil.
An iPod.
The schedule for the Saints’ season. (We aren’t making it to the super bowl this year.)
Oh, how could I forget?
I always carry a smile. 
A smile.
It covers all those things I carry.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Thhooorreeaaauuuu! Thoreau's Last Walk, by Aidan Bond

Thoreau, a man of solitude, is not one who can easily translate from isolation into an environment filled with sociable, conversation-seeking teenagers. Although his first case of contact was perceived as friendly, slowly but surely, things took a turn for the worse. Philosophical conversations were great, temporarily that is, until the best questions ran out. When conversations became too complex, students slowly became distracted. They lost pace, falling behind as well as running ahead, leaving few for Thoreau to lecture on transcendentalism. Listening to Bobby Shmurda proved to be a much more popular pastime, as a result of the poor attempts to ban any and all technology from the hike. In teenager terms, anything that violates the rules is instantaneously cool, whereas a historical figure, in many ways, is seen as lame.
At any rate, as a result of various distractions in play, Thoreau’s group thinned down. It became a more defined and relentless group of followers. They were not simply interested in his ideology, but the sheer reality of Thoreau’s existence is what excited these super fans. In attempting to evade this painful experience, Thoreau came into contact with others from outside his miniature mob. He only managed to express a few words at a time, that is, before he would be cut off by overwhelming laughter, despite the lack of a genuinely comical statement. All of this resulted in an obvious realization: Thoreau needed to escape, and he was going to have to do it quickly. At certain moments along his path there were check-ins, at which large crowds amassed. At the largest gathering he pretended there was too much noise for him to hear, and he unheedingly walked ahead of his companions. He quickly slipped through the crowd, all the way to the front, and hurried along the trail until he was safely out of sight. Only a few minutes passed until his anxious friends caught up to him, out of breath, concerned over his disappearance. This surprise escalated the situation greatly, and so Thoreau stayed almost silent, giving short, relatively painless answers, until he arrived at another opportunity. An agitated swarm of wasps were swirling in the middle of his path. There were hundreds flying about, and many more crawling all over and around their disturbed hive. Thoreau, without hesitation, leaped straight through this extremely dangerous path, kicking dirt at the hive, and screaming like a lunatic in the hopes of further discouraging any attempt to follow him. Surely it would take a complete idiot to take such a risk, seeing as there was an alternative route, shortened in length, created specifically to avoid the wasps.
Despite the odds, as he was inspecting himself for stings, he was interrupted by a high-pitched scream, “Thhooorrreeaaauuuu!” followed by an abundance of heavy, fasted paced footsteps. His closest friends had risked the chance of injury for yet another opportunity to drive Thoreau further into desperation. And so the remainder of his arduous journey was filled with stories of bravery and valor. Or as he saw it, stories of the idiots who ran through a swarm of wasps, in order to follow someone who wanted to be alone.

Eventually he surrendered to his fate. He had decided to be happy, at least, for those he spared from suffering the same fate, had he not been there. Those who will never know of, let alone appreciate the great deed he carried out that day. At the end of the day, however, he would’ve much preferred avoiding this experience altogether, and being Thoreau, it’s not something he’s likely to risk experiencing twice. He most likely will never take a walk through the woods again.

Monday, October 6, 2014

The Stone Pony Asbury Park, NJ photo by Ashley Judson

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

To check out the latest edition of The Gunnery's literary journal, STRAY SHOT 2014, click here.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Tessa Mackey photo and caption

Although it was the first race, the girls in this boat practice hard everyday and have many blisters to prove it!
Nice work by sophomore Henry Pratt, from the student newspaper at The Gunnery. For Henry's article from the first issue of the school year, click here.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Thursday, July 24, 2014

nyc poetry festival

...a quick head's up that five frankmatter contributors, some of whom have been featured on this site, will be reading at the NYC Poetry Festival this Saturday at 1:40 (at The White Horse stage). For the poetry festival's website, click here. We're looking forward to hearing Leslie Howes, Emily Sklar, Mebane Robertson, Gabriele Tinti, and Moneta Goldsmith!