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The Book of Frank

4.46  ·  Rating Details  ·  586 Ratings  ·  70 Reviews

Winner of the 2009 Gil Ott Book Award, this expanded edition of The Book of Frank features additional "Frank" poems and an essay by Eileen Myles.

Praised by poet Anne Waldman as a "voyeuresque surreal portrait," The Book of Frank is also, in the words of candid portrayal of human cruelty and its resultant fantasies of escape."

Paperback, 176 pages
Published November 1st 2010 by Wave Books (first published February 1st 2009)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,678)
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Mar 14, 2009 Carrie rated it it was amazing
Was reading this on BART last night and these flamboyant tourists get on and one of them has to sit by me, and he's taking flash pictures the whole trip over and over, and then he put his camera down his pants, and takes a picture, and then says "I can't believe I just did that." And I'm thinking I can't believe he just did that. I think Frank made him do it.
Nov 13, 2014 Bryant rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
I sat down with this book for the first time about two hours before typing this, breaking once, to take a shower, quickly, eager to get back in there, back inside CAConrad's painfully beautiful, deeply emotional, insane and hilarious world. These poems, nearly every one, floored me, sent me reeling, warmed my soul. Conrad is not only a brilliant poet, he's a necessary one. One of those mad, lovely minds who feel this world completely in it's every facet. These poems are little love notes, penned ...more
Feb 28, 2015 Marcus rated it it was amazing
WOW! WOW! and WOW! I needed this. I mean needed it. And that doesn't happen often. Sometimes I like books of poetry. Sometimes I love books of poetry. And sometimes, rarely, I absolutely need a book of poetry or song/album at different points/stages/times in life!!!

This is a need right now. I am alive!

Get it! If you haven't already. It is not all hype. CA Conrad must have one hell of a heart and mind.

Expansive in all the best meanings of that term. Frank. I love you!

Dec 08, 2011 Kristin rated it it was amazing
Wow. These poems are not only fabulously surreal but downright funny at times.

And anyone who uses a cowboy here and there gets my vote:

Frank added the milk to the
Instant Cowboy Mix and
herded himself into the
living room

This is the first book I have read that comes amazingly close to doing what I've been trying to do with my poems the last three years. I'm in love.
Michelle Taransky
Apr 13, 2009 Michelle Taransky rated it it was amazing
Shelves: for-teaching
You are not the Frank in these poems...

Merged review:

Everytime I read these poems, I learn things about myself I didn't know before. Yesterday, The Book of Frank taught me about gardening on the moon.
Mar 12, 2009 Laura rated it it was amazing
(everyone by now knows that) CA Conrad is magical, but this very early book reminds us that he's been wielding this ecstatic, strange, and mischievous magic for a looong time.
May 06, 2009 Rauan rated it it was amazing
A wonderful book..... In preparing for an interview that I did with the author I read it through 4 or 5 times and certain poems more than that.
Certain poems are truly marvelous.

If you're interested the interview's at

Dec 22, 2011 Sara rated it it was amazing
This kind of changed my mind about what poetry could be like. This opened something up for me which makes me feel like I have a new way to go about writing poetry. I love this. This feels personal to me. Yes. This. Forever.
The Book of Frank is what children’s books would be like if we allowed children to know what they know. Intimate, elegant, explosive, contradictory, fucked-up and beautiful.
Nov 30, 2010 Jeremy rated it it was amazing
This book is amazing! Read it at once. It will change your life. It is one of the most imaginative books I've read in years.
Oct 23, 2011 J.A. rated it it was amazing
Why haven't you read this yet?
Jesi Brubaker
Mar 16, 2015 Jesi Brubaker rated it liked it
There were some images and word play that I really enjoyed but otherwise I thought this book was meh. I would categorize this book with books such as My Therapist Said, Sarah, and Cruddy. You have an off kilter character with an off kilter life. And you're not sure if you exactly believe your character exists, in real life and on the page. Which makes me smile because of course your character doesn't really exist in real life, but sometimes when you read a character can become so real. Unfortuna ...more
Feb 26, 2012 Valerie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I first heard poems from this book before I read any of them. I listen to a lot of audio poetry and Conrad has readings recorded at PennSound, and Bomb Magazine's audio show Phoned In. His reading style compliments his poems.

The poems in the book are some of the most creative, fun, crazy, perverted I've read. They are delightful, hilarious and creepy. I love when poetry really goes over the top, and this has.

All the poems are about Frank, who some people have said is Conrad's alter ego. The poem
Dean Kritikos
Sep 06, 2014 Dean Kritikos rated it it was amazing
Absolutely incredible. I'm reminded of _Autobiography of Red_ by Anne Carson. Conrad's book is so incredibly vivid, heart-straining, eye-opening...and, at points, very funny. Frank is innocent, I think, and the vulnerability that Conrad is able to play upon strikes a register that makes me hopeful for communication between people any/everywhere who have lived and loved (suffered)--that is, across boundaries we are accustomed to think are impossible to cross. Frank's multiplicity, which Eileen My ...more
Kimberly Ann
Oct 28, 2015 Kimberly Ann rated it it was amazing
Why yes, I finished this in less than 24 hours. Less than 1 hour, in fact. How can you put this book down? This is not a book you put down. This is a book that you read straight through, read the Eileen Myles outro in the back, and then flip right to the front again to read back through and determine which pages of this excellent book are really truly your favorites, you know, if you find it possible to pick. I borrowed this book, but I feel as though I NEED a copy, to own, to revisit, to keep a ...more
Aug 10, 2015 Emily rated it really liked it
Shelves: mmmmm-poems
Here's the thing, I don't even like absurdist poetry but THIS GUY, THIS GUY is mind blowing, so good,... I want to crawl into his brains and see if they are as delightfully deviant, creepy and beautiful as i imagine
Jared Levine
Jun 10, 2016 Jared Levine rated it it was amazing
In magnificent subtlety, CAConrad presents a narrative both in innocently troubled, and completely fantastic, surreal belonging to some ridiculous ethereal pastel dream. The more I aquatint myself with Conrad's work the more I want to give this giant squishy hug, but in this fandom I've created for my self CAConrad is plush and the there are so many feathers and its a massive amount of fun but also, there are little pokeys, sticking out of his shit and they are sharp and bruising—I laugh as the ...more
Elias Siqueiros
Nov 16, 2015 Elias Siqueiros rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
Perhaps my favorite contemporary poetry book in the past couple of years. You can read through this rather quickly but then realize it's better to slow down. Too much beauty in it to rush through. It's a book that is humorous and painful in equal measures, a book that feels like it had to be written and destined to be read by you as well. There's a bit of magic in this book, it kind of instantly belongs at a higher level than most poetry books published.
Nov 12, 2014 Epizeuxis rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: People who: are taken with poetry.
Clearly, I am not much one for poetry. Conrad certainly has a way with words: the imagery is oftentimes striking and powerful.

I simply do not know what is being talked about much of time. The general theme and narrative (if there is one) is easy enough to discern, but many of the verses leave me bewildered and having no idea what is occurring within them.

A quick read, thankfully. I do not appear to have the patience to pick apart and unravel Conrad's complexities, so this is a blessing.
Chris Schaeffer
Dec 20, 2011 Chris Schaeffer rated it really liked it
I want to give this four and a half stars, because it's excellent, really funny and troubling and beautiful, but I had some itching questions about composition and ordering that gave me pause and detracted somewhat from my enjoyment. So, don't trust those four stars, because I really did greatly esteem this book. Conrad's character 'Frank' is a kind of forefather to Catie Rosemurgy's Ms. Peach, a 'polymorphousely perverse' gender-Protean whirlwind of bathos that the book, generally, follows from ...more
Joe Imwalle
Mar 05, 2015 Joe Imwalle rated it it was amazing
I feel like I give 5 stars too easily but what can I say...I loved reading this book of unexpected poems. It's weird and surprising and creative and filled with poems that made me laugh out loud. It's not what you think of when you think of poetry. It's like a contemporary Dream Songs by John Berryman. In fact, I think there's even a Dream Songs reference: "Frank met Huffy Henry sulking in a dream song/ and zapped him/ with a miniaturizing gun." More accessible and enjoyable than Berryman, altho ...more
Andrea Lakly
Feb 13, 2016 Andrea Lakly rated it really liked it
This clever book of poems is weird, sometimes too weird. But in the end it's funny tone and genuine appeal won me over. The critical essay by Eileen Myles at the end is, no doubt, one reason why. She writes beautifully and authentically about his work, with less pretension than I have ever seen in lit crit.
Griffin Alexander
Frank hated the 9 miscarriages
kept in jars of formaldehyde

Mother burped each one

spooned peas against the glass

she rocked them all at once in her arms
no room for Frank

"you are too big for a jar my child
you will betray me the rest of your life"
Feb 18, 2016 Shannon rated it really liked it
Shelves: winter, poetry
Some of my favorite lines:

"'...I have shredded the parachutes to confetti
in celebration of our arrival'" (53).

"for love
Frank spoke softly into envelopes
instead of writing letters" (61).

"'We're 80% water' Frank says
'20% canoes can't ride'" (132).

"Frank plays chicken with a freight train
it hits
his Spirit's left standing
sure of a miss" (144).
Richard Leis
Nov 06, 2014 Richard Leis rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
Brilliantly surreal, queer, and often very funny. Sometimes the poems are so surreal that they are opaque to possible meanings, at least on a first reading.
Sep 27, 2011 Brian rated it really liked it
Shelves: own
even though i'm not immediately "getting" every poem, this book is rekindling my faith in poetry. that people still write it, that it is a valid means of expression, that it can be new and fresh and tell a cogent story.

saying you don't get poetry is so teenage. what does it even mean? it's sort of like you're driving down a very windy road and you're listening to the radio and the radio is broadcasting the poem. and sometimes when you round a bend, the rocks or a tree or something gets in the wa
Nov 26, 2009 Robert rated it it was amazing
It is so beautiful watching Frank pirouette from page to page, like a small bird-thing trapped in a phantasmagoria turned flip-book. Here's a poem I dog-eared, p. 63:

for love

Frank spoke softly
into envelopes
instead of

When I read this one my heart skipped a beat. It's like Conrad astrally-projected himself to 2006, and whispered in my ear in that dormitory down the street from the Anne Frank House, as I typed a flurry of correspondence to my friend Grace Tran about our necessarily ne
Jan 13, 2015 Kenan rated it really liked it
Bite-size accessibility combined with stellar continuity and cohesiveness.
Jamie Gaughran-Perez
Jun 23, 2013 Jamie Gaughran-Perez rated it really liked it
I'm fortunate to come across so many great books and so many great writers in my life. This is poetry with a strong narrative thread pulling through it... so you'll gobble it up quickly on the first go 'round -- but you're likely to come back to it again and again. I find myself treating all the books of poetry I love like this these days.

This is full of character and plot, and it plays its way around gender and sexuality, but that's not what the book is about. This book is about living, and the
May 01, 2016 Chaserrrr rated it it was amazing
Wowee Zowee!! I inhaled this collection and loved it very much.
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The Book of Frank 1 6 Dec 01, 2012 09:36AM  
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CAConrad’s childhood included selling cut flowers along the highway for his mother and helping her shoplift. He is the author of eight books of poetry and essays, the latest ECODEVIANCE: (Soma)tics for the Future Wilderness (Wave Books) is the winner of the 2015 Believer Magazine Book Award. He is a Pew Fellow and has also received fellowships from Lannan Foundation, MacDowell Colony, Headlands Ce ...more
More about CA Conrad...

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“I’m here for the show” the man said
looking under Frank’s shirt for the door

“I’m no theater” Frank said

a line formed

must he admit them all?

many had umbrellas

a blind woman
waited with
her dog

“it’s gonna be a great show” someone said
“but when’s he gonna let us in?”

Frank’s tears began to fall

someone ripped his doors open

they filled him for an hour”
“In a world of watered-down bestsellers and formula novels, Hitching to Nirvana eases back just enough to show the blade which cuts the real open, then bolts forward again, giving us a charged, swerving dance to self-actualization. Hitching to Nirvana is a magnetic forcefield, not just pulling us beautifully into the story, but into our own lives. It's rare when a writer can open the shared world with such a deft, personal touch. Janet Mason is a genius.” 3 likes
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