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Matthew Gavin Frank Recommends...

Writers Recommend

Posted 4.04.12

“Often I thumb through animal books—the National Audubon Society’s field guides to birds and fish almost always shake something loose. For instance my poem 'Parts of a Feather' in Sagittarius Agitprop (Black Lawrence Press, 2009) was inspired by, and depends heavily on, such bird facts. While taking notes for Pot Farm (on site at a California medical marijuana farm), I paged through my eastern birds field guide, reading about the birds I would never see out West. This cleared my head, prepared me to revise my notes and cobble them together into something readable. There’s something about birds and fish in glossy books—their skeletal diagrams, their oddball mating habits—that set me to jotting something down. Right now, I’m motivated by the giant squid. I’ve been thinking a lot about it lately after having seen a photo of one in the Smithsonian. Travel also inspires. Last year, my wife and I traveled through India. The car-horn culture there is interesting, and infuriating. There are no rules of the road, at least none that we could detect. Cars shared space with rickshaws; tiny mopeds bearing families of eight, the two infants propped up on the handlebars; oxen; goats; dogs; and pedestrians. Drivers had to sound their horns constantly—not in a ‘get out of my way’ or ‘hurry up’ sort of construct, but as if to declare, feebly and succinctly amid the chaos, ‘I’m here!  I’m here!’—as some kind of reminder, reassurance. In writing, I think I’m beeping that horn.”
Matthew Gavin Frank, author of Pot Farm (University of Nebraska Press, 2012)  

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