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The Book of Frank

4.44  ·  Rating details ·  809 ratings  ·  77 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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4.44  · 
Rating details
 ·  809 ratings  ·  77 reviews

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Mar 02, 2009 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.
Apr 09, 2012 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!

Feb 15, 2009 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 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.
Jan 04, 2011 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.
Mar 12, 2009 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.
Kimberly Ann
Mar 09, 2012 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
May 06, 2009 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

Nov 30, 2010 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.
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.
Oct 23, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Why haven't you read this yet?
Malobee Silvertongue
Feb 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
This is potentially the most awkward collection of poetry I have ever read. It made me feel viscerally uncomfortable at times in only the way that looking at life without any filter does, yet it was entirely surreal and disorienting. Though this surrealism permeated throughout, these short poems were so frequently punctuated with quiet profundity I would feel floored and grounded before launching off spinning again. I think I might have to read it many more times to figure out where it sits insi ...more
Feb 26, 2012 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
Mar 16, 2015 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
Dean Kritikos
Sep 06, 2014 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
Sep 21, 2011 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
Jun 15, 2015 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
Alejandro Saint-Barthélemy
Jan 29, 2018 rated it did not like it
Shelves: poetry, xxi
Poetry for people who don't like poetry.
A sign of the times.

Not as modern, original, shocking, avant-garde, etc., so as to be appreciated as the work of a "prophet of the new" either, so quite unworthy to me (for, as a lover of old art, I care more about depth, craft and beauty, but highly appreciate and enjoy what Duchamp was about, anyhow).

The internet (or simply American's most genuine talent, which is to attain fame, make money and/or "make it" [who knows about the greatest female poet ev
Jan 02, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: poetry-2018
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Nov 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: po-eh-tree, favorites

I love C.A.

Had to read this in one sitting since it was a library loan, but I’d suggest ALSO watching his doc, “The Book of Conrad” after reading these poems.

I’ve only been exposed to C.A.’s somatics, but it’s easy to see why this early poetry is so influential. They’re classic C.A.--, funny, queer, + profound, encapsulated in more of a narrative edge than his later collections. I understand why, when this book came out that these poems had everyone feeling so electric.

If you are new to
Zach Werbalowsky
Aug 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
A religious text for those stuck in the expansion of the universe. Watching (yes we watch) Frank live through the eternity of his life. With increasingly hilarious moments, banal moments, and downright sad and pathetic moments this book starts with a hard left hook and finishes with a goodnight kiss. Is anyone better for reading this? Probably. I ended this on the wrong the question.
M- S__
Jun 21, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: poetry
All the rave reviews on here talked me up from a 2 to a 3, but I really don't see what some people are seeing in this collection. So much of it is hella silly or pointless or just an 8 line jackoff. *shrug*
Ben Niespodziany
Oct 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
When this was recommended to me, it was described as the "weirdest character study you'll ever read" and I'm not sure anything else needs to be said. It's easy to read this book in 45mins, but I recommend you spend days/weeks with it.
Mar 01, 2018 rated it liked it
"Frank knows a
who wonders
about her old
Cade Miller
Mar 04, 2017 rated it liked it
worth a read due to its absolutely bizarre imagery and style. Plus, it's totally readable in one or two short sittings.
Chris Schaeffer
Dec 20, 2011 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
Feb 09, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
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
Kymm Lg
Mar 08, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorites
As soon as I got this book in my hands, I sat in my car in the parking lot, fanned through the pages, stuck my finger somewhere in the middle, and read this:

Frank is sad

her dogs like him

but she doesn't

he likes her dogs

but they are

forbidden to

visit him

without her

on the street

they bark for

Frank while she

looks away

pretending they

are not an


of her joy

I sped home and devoured the book in one sitting.

Nov 25, 2009 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
Jared Levine
Jun 10, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
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
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The Book of Frank 1 8 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 9 books of poetry and essays the latest While Standing In Line For Death is forthcoming from Wave Books in September 2017. He is a Pew Fellow and has also received fellowships from Lannan Foundation, MacDowell Colony, Headlands Center for the Arts, Banff, RADAR, Flying O ...more
“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.” 4 likes
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