he enters his prime, American poet Frank
Messina has been described by critics as taunting, heroic, generous,
mischievous, direct, intelligent, inspiring, audacious, hilarious and down to
earth. From his Italian ancestry he inherited a flair for the dramatic,
and in his latest collaborative release, 'Walking Home', Messina cuts a fare bella
one eye on the battlefield and the other on Lady Liberty, visionary poet Frank
Messina hammers away at Pandora's box and uncovers the steel fragility of New
Yorkers and the ability of human beings to accept suffering and defeat with dignity.
His love of a good old-fashioned fight propels him to shamelessly re-enact the
ranting and haunting of a post 9/ll world within the stadiums, soundscapes and
streets of New York. He tells us of a vision he has of Walt Whitman pointing toward
the soul of America:
saw you Walt Whitman, high above the Palisade, with your crooked finger,
south toward New York Harbor
heard the bagpipes of autumn one too many times
searching for your brother
I searching for the soul of America
that where you were pointing
toward the soul of America
Franks poetry is
clearly masculine. Usually manliness displays itself through aggression or cruelty,
but Frank is able to convey it through tenderness as well.
his prose-poem, Playing for The Mets,
he confronts the innocent, boyhood dilemma of growing up as a Mets fan in a Yankee
town. As he returns home from a victorious game of stickball in the street with
Yankee legends Catfish Hunter and Craig Nettles, the young Mets fan is rewarded
with a kiss by a tough, but cute red-head named Roxanne, who looks
at Frankie and says, 'you won'. At that moment, the boy finds out what it means
to be the hero, the slugger
one who just tasted the quiet glory of
being a Mets fan. From an early age Frank understands the sweet smell of
victory and he's been chasing it ever since:
'Every shop in town had pictures of Yankees. You couldnt get away from it.
In short, it was Mets fan hell.' and 'long before baseball lived in mansions,
they lived in places called home'.
'Disorderly Conduct' he passionately
speaks out about our duty to help one another. Part of Franks psyche is
to rescue friends and strangers:
are hereby charged with
in the first degree,
failure to obey a distress signal
your fellow citizens
against the wall!"
his masterful Dylan praise poem, For Bob Dylan,
Messina captures not only the unrest of the early 60s, but the desire of
flower children and hipsters alike to seek a savior, a guru, a leader. Dylan,
the reluctant messiah, came to us because music was the answer. He
went Electric, oh my God, screamed the kids. But wasnt he already electric?
Messina says Dylan is an arrogant lover of life:
poet-master-troubadour-angry Jewish kid
of the corner pocket of the American dope deal,
lover of life, bard with a beard of butterflies,
to the moon, comes back With a silver box and a
tucked deep inside'
is to bring poetry back to the people, to the masses. Its quite a heroic
challenge that he may partially win. In part because Frank is both an 'outsider'
and an 'insider'. In a recent conversation I had with Frank, he comments about
the self-help books glutting the market, and the absurdity of their making it
to the New YorkTimes best seller list. He said 'If more people read Dante, Shakespeare,
Kerouac and Amram they would have a better understanding of themselves....they
wouldn't need crappy self help books'! I reminded him that it wasn't just the
ancient Greek or Roman stadiums that were filled with poetry fans. Before the
Soviet Union fell apart, they held huge poetry readings in their stadiums with
thousands of eager fans in attendance.
contributions to the collaborative CD, 'Walking Home',
are some of his finest spoken word recordings to date. His hard-edged baritone
voice with its smooth New York accent and biting humor are both comforting and
exhilarating. Frank arouses us with baseball, bravery, nostalgia, hope, conquest,
civility, and unexpected loss. The anguish of his father's death two years ago
is never far from his heart and it's humbled him..
Home' is a beautiful collaboration, inspired by one of America's
finest poets, Ron Whitehead.
Frank is fortunate to be accompanied by the good vibrations of singer, songwriter
and guitarist Tyrone Cotton
on guitar, new comer Sarah
Elizabeth on vocals and dulcimer; and Andy
Cook on percussion and guitar. However, when I listen to 'Walking
Home' it's Frank Messina's voice that captures my autumn New York
state of mind.
by Jack Kerouac and the Beats, Frank is fast becoming a voice for post
9/ll America, in a way that Kerouac became a voice for many post WWll baby boomers.
Both writers inspired by a youthful, bold, and audacious country called America,
where one feels that everything is possible, in the sense of becoming.
Artemis, is a native New Yorker, a Dancer and
Instructor who writes 'reviews', short stories, and poetry.
More about Zoe Artemis at