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!

Monday, June 9, 2014

The ginger lily

My ‘living’ memory of Uncle Kanjilal are Champa plants (Dolon Champa in Bangla) that produce the most beautiful and intensely perfumed white flowers. This kind of Champa is found in humid tropical zones, such as certain areas of India, and all of southeast Asia. I have even found it in Texas, where it grows in abundance, and characteristically in a kind of wondrous ‘forest,’ all the more beautiful when it is in flower. In English it is also called the ginger lily. I have always loved this flower, which is extremely rare in the dry climate of the Indian region of Uttar Pradesh, but my uncle had it in his garden. When I asked him for a cutting, he laughed at me a bit skeptically, saying that I would never be able to make it flower. I responded that I was sure I could. And so went our good-natured repartee for some time. My uncle has passed on, but his Champa is still here. It has also produced others, and in season, there are abundant flowers. For me, it is as though my uncle were present, and content, still pretending not to give me any credit. He was slender, wiry, and agile, with an alert gaze, a narrow mustache, and glasses. I still feel his great affection. 

People pass away. Whoever can leaves something: a house, land, and who knows what else. But plants that have been left behind have extra significance for me. They bear living witness to who once lived. Indeed, it is as though they live on.

in homage to Devi Priya
with affection and gratitude
an excerpt from her memoir
Più di una vita | More than one life
from the translation in progress by Nicholas Benson

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Thank you for maxi-reading!
at The Gunnery on April 26th
Lexi Nanavaty
Matt LoPresti
Casey Siemon
Sam Joslin
Ivy Le
Ataman Uğur
Jake Kantor
Shannon O’Connor
Laura-Delight van Tartwijk
Jessica Xu
Sam Hemmingstad
Henry Palmer
Zafar Mirzaliev
Isaac Reguant Escarra y James Benedetto
Nick Weinstein
Alexis Dominicus

and particularly recognized for their outstanding recitations: 

Alexis Dominicus 
Henry Palmer, Sam Hemmingstad, Jake Kantor, Ivy Le, Sam Joslin, Casey Siemon, Matt LoPresti, and Lexi Nanavaty


[illustration by Shannon O'Connor]

Monday, April 14, 2014

Poem by Nick Weinstein


Growing up you used your hands
Taking roll call every time
You needed to count between one and ten

But that never mattered

When you were young you still needed a song
Never were quite sure what came next, was it J or K?
Twenty-six letters put to a rhyme just so you could spell

But that never mattered

Whatever happened to those days?
Did they slip away in backdraft of time’s momentum?
Fall away from our calendars like a dying leaf?

Or are they simply hiding?
Just waiting to be rediscovered, our youthful invigoration?
Lying around our subconscious, a buried treasure trove of wonder?

Our twenty-four hour workday fills itself
Labor after labor after labor
Even Hercules would be put to shame,
He only had thirteen.

What changed us?
Derailed our hopes and dreams?
We used to have literary merit,
So much more than just a story
Now we trudge on desperately,
 Searching for a missing theme
That we will never find.

Imagination flew with freedom
We thought in sound and fury
The Shakespeare of our own minds
An everlasting waterfall of adventures to be had

Take back those “childish” days
Pay back the late fees and renew your sense of wonderment
Embrace what some may call a crisis
Because what everyone else thought?
Well, that never mattered.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Poem by Emma Ward

Go away

Go away
I want to lay
In my bed
I think it's  best
I skip that test
I've got a nasty
As for that sport
You make me play
I’m no good anyway
I think it's best
You let me rest
Upon my bed today

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Gerry Kahari's Spring Break Diary

Dear Diary, 
        Day one of spring break I woke up and went to class. Then I took a nap in that class and I woke up when the class ended, it was great. After that I saw Kevin in the dorm hallway. He told me to have a good spring break. Then I responded with, "you too." My dad picked me up shortly after that riveting conversation with Kevin. A few days afterwards I arrived at my abode. I sailed on my rubber ducky to Panama City. Oh what a paradise that place is. While in Panama City I met some very beautiful dolphins. It was fairly warm for most of my stay. To return home I sailed back using my floaties. Due to the absurd winds it was difficult to return and I ran into a young boy on a boat with a lion. At first I thought it was quite odd that this boy was by himself on a boat with a lion but then I figured that I was lost. Because the circus is the other way. While I was home I worked out, watched tv and played a little lacrosse. My parents made me work, because they thought I had too much free time and that I wasn't doing anything productive, while they were at work....they were right. 

Sunday, March 30, 2014

We have this project to / change our silence into the beautiful city of a voice.

— Alice Notley, "Millions of Us"
in Songs and Stories of the Ghouls
Wesleyan UP, 2011
pp. 167-170; 170.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

‘When human beings attempt to come to terms with who they are and who they wish to be, the most effective medium is verbal. Through words we represent ourselves to ourselves, we expand our awareness of the world, we step back, gain distance, on what it is we’ve said. And then we are in a position to change. Images, however exhilarating, do not generally function in this way. Words allow for a precision and nuance that images do not seem, for most people, to be able to provide. In a culture that changes at the velocity that ours does, the power of self-revision is centrally important. Self-aware self-revision is very difficult, if not impossible, outside of language.’

Mark Edmundson, Why Teach? In Defense of a Real Education. NY: Bloomsbury, 2013. 207

Monday, March 3, 2014

[...] in order to get the truth to speak, it is not enough to suspend the subject’s active intervention and let language itself speak — as Elfriede Jelinek put it with extraordinary clarity: “Language should be tortured to tell the truth.” 


The Poetic Torture-House of Language

How poetry relates to ethnic cleansing


Monday, February 24, 2014


check out the latest entries to the online journal frankmatter here
Contributors to this issue: Juan José Saer, translated by Steve Dolph | J.M.G Le Clézio, translated by Patricia Frederick | Glenn Arnold | Carrie Crow | SJ Fowler 

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Memorial Address by Jenna Lee

I do not remember my father’s face. I do not have any memories about my dad at all. The only thing I know about my dad as a person is his face in the picture. When other kids in kindergarten bragged about their fun trip with their dad on weekends, I just listened to them, thinking of what I did with my mom. Luckily, I was never lonely or sad about my father’s absence. In fact, I never felt I needed one, because my mom and my family tried to fill me with a lot of love so that I didn’t even care about his absence. Therefore, sadly, I actually don’t know my dad that much. However, when I was young, my mom used to tell me about my dad. According to my mom, my dad was the most sincere and romantic person ever in her life. My mom once told me that when she first saw my dad, she thought ‘This is the person I was looking for!’ Unlike other ‘boys’ she met in college, my dad was truly a gentleman. After my parents got married, they never fought or argued over things; they always loved each other and they still do.
It was a snowy day of January of 1997. I was three years old, in my Korean age. My family lived in an apartment, and there was a huge garden (more likely a shared field) in front of my apartment. There was a huge snow in Daegu province of Korea, where usually it is very hot. Taking pictures on special occasions, like a snowy day, was a matter of course to my family; the first snowy day for their first daughter was probably unforgettable. My dad wore his orange jacket that he wore everywhere he went; I wore my favorite red coat that my aunt bought for me. Red-and-white striped wool coat, black corduroy pants, and red shoes. I did not miss my woolen hat. As usual, my family had a great time. Most of the time, mom took the pictures for me and my dad; it was proven when my mom took all of the pictures of me and my dad from the album, because the whole album shrunk to half its original thickness. Anyway, the snow was a big deal for my family, and they were so excited to show their little girl a new world. They decided to take pictures in the apartment garden, where usually nobody went except homeless cats or the security guard who roamed around the apartment building. The ground was covered with white snow, and nobody interrupted the very moment of my family – just perfect for the picture. My dad held me next to the fence, smiling happily as if he had everything in this world. That day, my dad and I were totally photogenic, but my family did not know that this best shot would be last picture that we would take as a family.
My dad was a professor in college. Although he was only 29 when he became one, he was respected by many people. He met my mom when he was 31, and my mom was 26. According to my grandparents and aunts, compared to his friends, my dad was much more intelligent. But at the same time, he was my family’s photographer. My mom and dad used to take a lot of photos when they were dating. After I was born, they took hundreds of photos and put them inside my album. From the moment I was born, my dad always had his camera in his hand. Not only the film camera, he also had a video camera, and recorded various moment of my childhood (now, those films and videotapes are sleeping in my grandparent’s house’s closet). Two days after the day my family took the happy picture, my dad had to go to the airport to pick up someone. It was part of his work, so he had to go despite the horrible weather. My dad was a very sincere person, so he would have not wanted to miss his work. As shown in the picture, the weather was very cold and snowy for a few days. When it rains, it pours; the day my dad left the house was not only snowy, but also windy and rainy - it was a storm. Full of anxiety, my mom did not want my dad to go to the airport in that terrible weather. Saying good-bye to me and my mom, my dad left the house. Unfortunately, that was the last word that my mom would hear from him.
My dad took an airport limousine in the early morning. Despite the harsh weather and the early hour, there were a few other people going to the airport. Including the driver, people on the bus were very tired. It was raining and snowing outside and the road was very slippery. Although more attention was required, the driver must have been worn out from consecutive rides; the driver fell asleep while driving. It was only for a short moment that he lost control of his mind and body, but the consequence was irrevocable. When the driver realized what he did, it was too late; the bus slipped, hit the guardrail, and rolled down to a field under the highway. When the bus rolled down, my dad hit his head very hard and passed out. When he was moved to the hospital, he was in deep coma. He slept like that for two weeks. He could not respond to my mom’s cry, nor could hold me like he did in the picture. He could not greet my grandparents with a smile like he usually did before, and he could not go back to his office and teach college students. He was sleeping deeply and quietly, for two weeks. Eventually, the doctor declared brain death. My dad could not wake up again, and my entire family had to send him away like that without preparation or good-bye words. My dad was 35 in Korean age, and his early death was a huge shock to his family and friends.
Ironically, my dad was the only one who passed away because of that bus accident. Even the driver survived, which seemed totally unfair to my family. My grandparents and aunts were losing themselves. To my family, the driver was a murderer who killed the one we loved. The driver went to jail after the accident, but now, I don’t know whether he is out of jail or not. My entire family went through hard times that I can’t even explain in hundreds of pages, but they never let me feel sad or lonely. During my dad’s absence, my mom told me that my dad went to America to study. My dad was a professor and I knew that, so it made sense to me. Although he never called me, never wrote me, or never visited me for six years, I believed what my mom told me. My grandparents often took me to my dad’s grave, telling me that we are going on a picnic, but I never realized that it was where my dad was sleeping. There wasn’t any sign, and my grandparents never said anything special about the place. The only thing they said about my dad in front of me was how intelligent he was, and asked me if I hated him for not coming back from America. I never hated him for not being with me, because I thought that was a matter of course for all the fathers. I don’t know what hit me, but I never thought that it was weird to live only with mom. I was nine years old in Korean age when I found out about everything. A few months before my mom decided to remarry with another nice gentleman, she told me about my dad’s death. I could not believe what she was saying, and told myself that it was not true. I did not go to school, called my mom a liar, and cried all night with my dad’s pictures. That was why my mom took away all the pictures of dad from the album except this picture, and I hated my mom for a long time. 
The last picture of me and my dad is so important to me and my family. My dad could not see this picture, because there were no digital cameras at that time, and printing film took almost four days. At the moment when my dad was smiling with me in the snow, when my mom was happily taking the picture, when the whole family was just filled with happiness that their little girl was experiencing her first big snow, no one knew that the tragedy was waiting for us and was ready to destroy our sweet days. Although now his body is gone through the cremation because no one could take care of his grave, he is still alive inside my grandparents, aunts, and hopefully my mom. This picture is still in my grandparents' house, hung up on the wall in a huge print. I have a smaller version of the same picture in my room; it is laminated and stuck on my closet. I see it every moment I live and remember him all the time. Although now I have the world’s nicest stepfather, my dad will always be my only dad. I love you, dad.  

Congratulations to Jenna Jaewon Lee for receiving Honorable Mention in the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards for this essay, and our thanks to her for sharing it with us. 


Wednesday, January 15, 2014