Biography of Frank Fagan
Master Singer, Cauldron Maker, Acrobat
Frank Fagan's poetry is often irritable, often wry, and always amusing. No one is more aware of the absurdities and indignities of existence. He finds the ridiculous in the heroic, the banal in the profound, the bland in the romantic. The eponymous anti-hero of his verse-play Maginn (1993) articulates the poet's vision in a fable: He recounts how he went in search of four once-famous men and found
That the master singer envied the harp player,
the harp player envied the cauldron maker,
and the cauldron maker envied everybody.
The only one without envy was the acrobat,
but he was in despair-
For he was an upright man.
Life often appears an exercise in futility to Fagan. The words 'upright man' allude to Job, archetypal inhabitant of a futile universe. Humorously, Fagan's upright man is an acrobat, much of whose life is spent anything but upright. Maginn's suffering is equally comical, but his suffering is perhaps made bearable by its comical nature.
At the same time, Frank Fagan is joyously in love with language. Allusions to other authors abound in his work. Significantly, Maginn is himself a typographer, a man involved in a physical relationship with words, and his lover, Kathleen, is a proof-reader. But even language arouses Fagan's comic irritation and makes him aware of a near-perpetual dissatisfaction, as in the poem 'Contra Commas, ' from Pick A Word (1992) :
Look. I've swept
They lie on the floor
the precision of points-not
its bright shaft
In all of my life
just one of my commas
truly had bite.
It is still embedded
in the victim's breast
as if it were
Fagan believes that his role as a poet is to transmute ordinary, everyday agonies into things of beauty. In 'The Good Parasite, ' he imagines himself a parasitical Malaysian flower that feeds off the rot of existence and smells of it too:
who cannot tell your grief,
I can consume
nations of sufferers
I am the good parasite-
Let me live.
Born and raised in Troy, NY, Fagan served in the military before pursuing a variety of professions: writer, editor, political organizer, and business executive. He now lives in Chatham, NY.
For more poems and to hear Frank Fagan read a selection of his work, see: http: //www.seanfagan.com/frankfagan/
Frank Fagan's Works:
Pick A Word, a selection of poems (1992) : Maginn, a verse play for voices (l993) : The Derelict Genius of Martin M, a prose-poem novella (l999) : The Moonlit Door, new and selected poems (2002) .
Frank Fagan Poems
Inching Into Madness, His Old Wife Still...
He's dull as dribble; when he speaks, he reeks; his hair is falling out in clumps. He's swag-bellied and sway- backed. His rig hangs upside
In A Dovecote
Sing sing twisted skein
A broken skein, long signature scrawl against a dropcloth sky: the geese, the barking geese are flocking.
I have discovered a way to write love poems to women just before breakfast and without lying.
Her madness was mere notion then. From behind our papier-mâché masks we watched impassive as it grew.
That feigning-friendly leering letch over there, kneading from behind the shoulders and neck of a pretty young thing barely half his age,
Hill, Sunset, Rocks, Sheep
High on Hoose Hill behind which slides slowly the always brazenly clangorous sun (with whatever colors quietly
A woman unseen, her eyes deeper than vanished continents, sits in a room, smoking a cigarette, waiting for a dawn that just
This is delicious, both meeting and not meeting, being here and not being here, wine half sipped for full savor.
Ham-handed Henry had his way with her, as they say, in more ways than one. Considerate of him to shield her white skin in here, out of the sun. Bodily
Bent spent down- cast
Take It From Horace
Take it from Horace, who long ago warned us not to paint a dolphin in a forest, nor a wild boar disporting on a wave.
I got your message from I know not where but there was trouble on my phone. I heard just this: breakfast…tugboat…lemon…click, followed by a static hiss. (I, too, am, at my best,
The Good Parasite
Once, a child, a child of mine, if you must know, brought me a flower,
The Good Parasite
a child of mine, if you must know,
brought me a flower,
clutched in his little hand so tight
I had to pry it free.
I have heard that in the Malay mountains
there is a flower,