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ISBN: 978-1934703557
Categories Poetry

Sagittarius Agitprop

Publication Date: May 2009


Sagittarius Agitprop makes of the heart and family history the stuff of mythology and “agitated propaganda$$ filtered through a voice that is at once angry and tender, hilarious and asshole-ish. Like the left-wing “agitprop theatre” of 1920s and 30s Europe, these poems often intend to provoke via unfairness, smoke and mirrors, a desire for stepped-on love, and veiled jokes  The poems within involve eunuchs and Stravinsky, fishermen and Picasso, infant daughters who speak with whales, dying fathers who fetishize coffee mugs with moose on them. Also involved, as equalizers of sorts, are a vulgar Prometheus, Marilyn Monroe, an astronomer rabbi, a bag of almonds, a dead grandfather reincarnated as a sheep, an aardvark with issues of body image, and a mythical zebra. Each, as the title indicates, gets its trial by heart, by fire, by cosmos, and by picket line.


“Matthew Frank’s new collection of poems exchanges ideas for music and music for pictures, with completely unexpected freshness and velocity–and this is not the experience of surrealism, but of a current realism that is hastening with the times. And these times are often rude and beyond all correction and all comparison. This book is sort of miraculous. I love it.”

-Norman Dubie

In Matthew Gavin Frank’s splendid debut collection, Sagittarius Agitprop, poem after poem is unswervingly bold and astonishing…Frank is a master of deft balance between the material of experience and lyric transformation, never losing his poetic footing or his sense of humor…To be Frank, I think he walks on the water that is the page!”

-Cynthia Hogue

About the Author

Matthew Gavin Frank

Matthew Gavin Frank is the author of the nonfiction books, Pot Farm and Barolo (both from the University of Nebraska Press), and Preparing the Ghost: An Essay Concerning the Giant Squid and the Man Who First Photographed It (forthcoming from W.W. Norton: Liveright) the poetry books, The Morrow Plots, Warranty in Zulu, and Sagittarius Agitprop, and the chapbooks Four Hours to Mpumalanga and Aardvark.  Recent work appears in The New Republic, Field, Epoch, AGNI, The Iowa Review, Crazyhorse, Black Warrior Review, Seneca Review, DIAGRAM, The Normal School, Quarterly West, The Best Food Writing, The Best Travel Writing, Creative Nonfiction, Hotel Amerika, Gastronomica, and others. He was born and raised in Illinois, and currently teaches Creative Writing in the MFA Program at Northern Michigan University, where he is the Nonfiction Editor of Passages North.  This winter, he prepared his first batch of fried trout ice cream.

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