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Zoe Artemis Reviews Frank Messina and Ron Whitehead's New CD

"Walking Home"

Get your own CD of "Walking Home"Click Here!

As 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 figura.

With 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:

‘I saw you Walt Whitman, high above the Palisade, with your crooked finger,

pointing south toward New York Harbor…..’

‘I heard the bagpipes of autumn one too many times……’

‘You searching for your brother

And I searching for the soul of America

Is that where you were pointing

pointing toward the soul of America……..’

Frank’s poetry is clearly masculine. Usually manliness displays itself through aggression or cruelty, but Frank is able to convey it through tenderness as well.

In 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 couldn’t get away from it. In short, it was “Mets fan hell.' and 'long before baseball lived in mansions, they lived in places called home'.

In 'Disorderly Conduct' he passionately speaks out about our duty to help one another. Part of Frank’s psyche is to rescue friends and strangers:

"you are hereby charged with

complacency in the first degree,

possession of ambivalence

and failure to obey a distress signal

from your fellow citizens

Get against the wall!"

In his masterful Dylan praise poem, “For Bob Dylan”, Messina captures not only the unrest of the early 60’s, 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 wasn’t he already electric?’ Messina says Dylan is an arrogant lover of life:

'Folk poet-master-troubadour-angry Jewish kid

out of the corner pocket of the American dope deal,

arrogant lover of life, bard with a beard of butterflies,

flies to the moon, comes back With a silver box and a

revolution tucked deep inside'

Messina's mission, is to bring poetry back to the people, to the masses. It’s 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.

Frank’s 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..

'Walking 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.

Influenced 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.

Zoe Artemis, is a native New Yorker, a Dancer and Instructor who writes 'reviews', short stories, and poetry. - Click Here To Learn More About Zoe Artemis!

Zoe Artemis, is a native New Yorker, a Dancer and Instructor who writes 'reviews', short stories, and poetry.

Learn More about Zoe Artemis at

Click Here To Learn More About Zoe Artemis!


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