I’m 38-years-old and living in New York, after spending the first 25 years of my life around Los Angeles, California. I first developed a love for poetry in college and wrote some that was published in the college’s literary journal, but then didn’t write for a long time as I pursued a business career that led me to Chicago and then New York. From college until around 27, I almost exclusively read business books, in particular, those that were finance and investment oriented.
As I became more steadied on my career path, I began to feel the need to reignite my creativity and intellectual stimulation that I had enjoyed earlier in my life. I had always been fascinated with history and international culture, having been a history and economics dual major in college, so I decided to study Japanese, which I developed to an intermediate level. This means I could read with the help of a dictionary and have conversations in broken Japanese with native speakers. After that, I studied a little Chinese, but never developed the spoken proficiency I have in Japanese, though I can read a good portion of the poems as many characters are similar to those in Japanese. I’ve also dabbled a bit in many other languages, but never became fluent in anything but English.
How long did it take you to learn Japanese? Have you ever been to Japan?
It took about two years to speak Japanese at a basic level. I actually went to Japan for the first time after two years of studying and found myself pleasantly surprised to be able to have a fairly long conversation in Japanese with a staff member of the traditional inn I was staying at. When I stopped people and asked directions they could actually understand me, though with some trouble. Unlike in Europe, many Japanese do not feel comfortable with spoken English. Of course, my vocabulary is limited and my grammar is poor.
Only in Japanese, though. Below are some examples of Frank’s poetry.
but the mask wrapped so tight
that no one heard
|she did not want
to face the sky
but it came down
|she dreamed of snow,
he dreamed of beach—
a peaceful glow
they could not reach
|on a night
a lone woman
|as time folds
folds with it
|I tried to swim away
but the undertow of her kiss
compelled me to stay
|I pray in secret
And somehow, somewhere,
I am heard
the sweet acid of his words
until he corrodes her soul
Have you always written poetry?
About three years ago I realized that something was still missing in my life and as I thought about what it was, I remembered that I had always wanted to be a writer and poetry was the most natural thing for me to write. Despite all the other pursuits over the years, I had always read poetry–much more so than fiction, for example. I started a blog, Follow the Blue Flute, and a Twitter account and began writing haiku and other poems. As haiku was the most fascinating form to me, I started translating Basho.
Then I learned about the HyakuninIsshu, a classic anthology of five-line tanka poems, and ended up translating the whole volume and publishing it in a book, which I called One Hundred Leaves. At the same time, I learned about the many talented poets writing on Twitter and dVerse and created my first anthology, Fragments. After reading more of the work of the poets on dVerse, I felt that there were many amazingly talented poets out there just as good as any I’d read in contemporary poetry books, so I approached Brian and Claudia with the idea of The dVerse Anthology to showcase them.
We are so glad you did.
After translating hundreds of poems, I felt inspired to focus my effort on creating original poetry, most of which takes the form of haiku, tanka, and other micropoetry that I post on my Twitter account, @FollowBlueFlute. The instant feedback is both gratifying and useful and I have a lot of fun participating in back-and-forth poetic exchanges with other poets, where I write a haiku and they respond with their own haiku, and so on. Sometimes we get several different people creating a long chain of haiku. This is a modification of a traditional Japanese back-and-forth poetry game called renga.
What’s your favorite kind of music?
I listen to jazz all day long on Pandora while at work…. intermixed with a little classical, pop, and oldies.
Any other hobbies or interests you’d like to share?
I also like live jazz, traveling, learning foreign languages, art, movies, silly comedy, hiking the trails of national parks, Central Park, the beauty of the Grand Canyon, Mad Men, rugby, and anything martial arts (UFC, boxing, kung fu, karate, jiujitsu, tai chi, etc.). Oh, and Belgian beers. Did I mention jazz? 😛
What are your plans and aspirations concerning poetry, Frank?
My near term poetry goals are to publish a collection of my work and edit the dVerse Anthology again next year. I am also planning on inviting 2-3 poets to publish their collections with the publishing firm I started, Plum White Press LLC. “Plum White” is the literal translation of the name of the classic Chinese poet, Li Bai (李白).
Here is an announcement hot off the press.
I just launched a new poetry magazine called Poetry Nook Magazine, which I hope will be monthly, depending on the amount of quality content submitted.
If you’re interested in submitting, there is more information and submission
guidelines here: https://poetrynook.submittable.com/submit
Simultaneous submissions and prior publication (with credit) is acceptable. Any form or free verse is also acceptable. Any length is acceptable, from a one line to five pages. For those of you who do art, there is an option for art submissions, where you can also submit haiga (the combination of a picture with a haiku).
Accepted poems will also be eligible for the next anthology I puttogether. I was very happy with the quality of work submitted for ThedVerseAnthology and hope to have another forum to showcase the poets’ work on anongoing basis as well as provide the opportunity to build publicationcredit.
If you’d like a copy of The dVerse Anthology, it is widely available. Here is the description, followed by links to order paperback and/or Kindle worldwide.
From America to Nigeria, Germany to Malaysia, and all around the world. One voice in the dark joins another, then another. Soon there is a chorus of voices and the night comes alive. No two voices are the same and each adds depth to the song. Soon it spreads and people in the next town are singing, then in the next country, and then in all the continents of the world. Different languages where the words don’t sound the same, but the heart unites as one. The song is not just the one you hear, but the one that plays “connect the dots” along the veins in your arm—as you inhale and—join in.
Explore the world of contemporary poetry through the eyes and words of over ninety poets from around the world. Drawn primarily from the poets contributing to dVersePoets.com, The dVerse Anthology features the unique voices and styles of poets as they delve into topics as varied as love, family, travel, conflict, loss, and much more. Take a peek and see what the poets have to offer about the pulse of life in modern society.
Paperback & KindleAvailability:
The dVerse Anthology: Voices of Contemporary WorldPoetry (Amazon US)
The dVerse Anthology: Voices of Contemporary WorldPoetry (Amazon UK)
The dVerse Anthology: Voices of Contemporary WorldPoetry (Amazon France)
The dVerse Anthology: Voices of Contemporary World Poetry (Amazon Germany)
The dVerse Anthology: Voices of Contemporary WorldPoetry (Amazon Spain)
The dVerse Anthology: Voices of Contemporary WorldPoetry (Amazon Italy)
The dVerse Anthology: Voices of Contemporary WorldPoetry (Amazon India)
The dVerse Anthology: Voices of Contemporary WorldPoetry (Amazon Japan)
The dVerse Anthology: Voices of Contemporary WorldPoetry (Amazon Brazil)
The dVerse Anthology: Voices of Contemporary WorldPoetry (Amazon Canada)
We appreciate all you do, Frank, and look forward to what’s next! If any of you have questions for Frank, feel free to ask them in the comments.