In his long-anticipated third poetry collection, Frank Paino sheds his singular light on the most obscure corners of history and human nature, assembling a hagiography of unorthodox saints. Paino’s poems teach us to look deeply at the unsettling realities from which we instinctually look away—and they show us the rich rewards of beauty and wisdom we can gain by doing so.
Frank Paino's first two volumes of poetry were published by Cleveland State University Press: The Rapture of Matter (1991) and Out of Eden (1997). He has received a number of awards for his work, including a 2016 Individual Excellence Award from The Ohio Arts Council, a Pushcart Prize, and The Cleveland Arts Prize in Literature. His poems have appeared in Antioch Review, Catamaran, Crazyhorse, The Gettysburg Review, Green Mountains Review, The Kenyon Review, North American Review, Prairie Schooner, Quarterly West, and World Literature Today, among other places.
This work, with a fetish-like attention to detail, enters the chambers of history we often avoid, stepping into skins both human and beast. [. . .] [Paino’s] fascinations sift the wreckage out of grief, desperate to find a way we can all rightly live with so much loss. Because, reader, be warned: within these pages is no typical lyric meditation on how our bodies are destroyed or what becomes of them after their end. No, this is a book unlike anything else being written today. You won’t be likely to forget what you encounter here. To quote [Paino]’s description of an exquisitely beautiful photograph of a suicide victim who fell to her death: Once you’ve seen it, you’ll be "powerless to turn away."
—Nickole Brown, from the foreword
In Frank Paino’s long-awaited new book, Obscura, the blessed and the profane both belie a state of bewilderment. The rapturous lyricism and the searing interiority zero in on what is difficult to behold. [. . .] In impeccably musical language, the poems in Obscura will consume you in their "ravenous fire."
—Oliver de la Paz
Frank Paino’s lavishly dark Obscura questions our species’ seemingly endless ability to impose harm and destroy others in the name of faith, progress, or pleasure. In poems that unsettle—in the severely sensual way that Dickinson does, in the nauseatingly precise way that Plath does—Paino makes the historical timely, illuminating, like a brush tipped in toxic radium, our deepest interiors. I have been waiting a long time for this book, and will be reading it for years to come.