Monday, August 25, 2008

It's like Mr. Rogers with tatoo sleeves...

Quinz's Book Corner

So I read the two Frank Stanford books my parents gave me for my birthday. I think I messed up though. "The Singing Knives" was his first collection. "You" was one of his last. I read half of "Knives" at work on Friday and then accidentally left it there over the weekend. In its absence, I read "You." This after noon, I finished "Knives." Regardless, the books both share a connection with "Battlefield," as well as each other. These two books make bookends to "Battlefield" and are more appropriate as far as introducing Stanford the writer, and Francis the protagonist. One aspect that does separate the two texts is the immediacy of style. "Knives" feels as though it's building, reaching a climax with the fucked up, but beautiful long poem, "The Snake Doctors."

One thing about Stanford that I really love is his ability to frame violence within the adolescent mind. You know what I'm talking about... Think back to when you were twelve (well, if you were a boy, if you were a girl, imagine how gross twelve year old boys were), most summer afternoons were spent committing acts so psychotic, most of us refuse to talk about them later. There's a blood lust then that hasn't yet been restrained. I myself used to shoot squirrels and birds with a pellet gun. Anyway, this is the violence in Stanford's work: it is very real, very cruel and yet so outlandish, you almost laugh, or actually do, and it is there that your connection with the speaker becomes real, it's there that Stanford gains the credibility he needs to pull off anything he can imagine.

If "Knives" is the rising action, "Battlefield" the 500 page pinnacle, then "You" is clearly the decent. The poems keep reaching for bigger ideas, broader images. So much of this all too brief book is spent, unlike a good portion of the work I've mentioned here, looking beyond today. It's easy, knowing the biography of the author, to say that Stanford was thinking about and considering death, but fuckitall, that's what these poems are doing, and doing real well. A taste from "Instead,"

Death is a good word.
It often returns
When it is very
Dark outside and hot,
Like a fisherman
Over the limit,
Without pain, sex,
Or melancholy.
Young as I am, I
Hold light for this boat.

Just read the goddamn books, alright?

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