What About This: Collected Poems of Frank Stanford
Copper Canyon, 2015
I haven’t the space here or quite the foolishness to fully recount the legend of a poet who could out self-mythologize Bob Dylan, who tucked Lorca’s penknife in his bootleg and Breton’s throwing starfish in his belt of hemp. Suffice to say that Frank Stanford was no abject nihilist but an utterly unreconstructed romantic. A serious young man who would die before he ever grew old, he was prodigiously gifted and impossibly prolific. Beyond the sanction of any literary establishment Stanford wrote without surcease, leaving behind a vastly original body of work that is sepulchral, erotic, unabashedly violent, doomed, in love, and in a perpetual dance with death. His poetry is so drenched in mud that squeamish readers may do best to avoid it altogether. Indeed, the poet CD Wright once wrote about Stanford’s work that “if you’re not young and crazy, it may be too late.” I would ask who among us, sometime, somewhere, or hidden within, is not still young and crazy?
What About This, the long longed-for gathering of Stanford’s ragged oeuvre released by Copper Canyon in April, allows brave readers to answer this question. Edited by Michael Wiegers, the collection is a 750-page doorstopper—that is, it holds the door open for readers to pass through and come back changed. Read the full story »