UC Berkeley News


Writing again, after many changes
Frank Paino will read at next week’s Lunch Poems

| 27 October 2004

Frank Paino
“Seductive, edgy, gothic, and sublime, these poems haunt the body as much as the soul” is how one critic describes Out of Eden, the second book by Ohio poet Frankie Paino. Another describes the author’s “riveting narrative gift” and “hell-bent, unprecedented, Gatling-gun ear.”

A writer who tackles the big themes — death, love, sex, spirituality — Paino, who now goes by Frank, will read at 12:10 p.m., Thursday, Nov. 4, as part of the campus’s popular Lunch Poems series.

Born in Cleveland in 1960, Paino was raised a Roman Catholic, though he says that he “long ago rejected that faith.” But, he adds, “one can’t be immersed in a tradition so rich in symbolism, and even eroticism, without being influenced by it.” Thus, his poetry often evokes biblical stories and tales of the saints — while looking under the surface, as he puts it, “to point out the sensual elements, the humanity of people who are generally portrayed as far removed from physical desire and temptation.”

After the publication of two collections, The Rapture of Matter (1991) and Out of Eden (1997), Paino stopped writing for a number of years, as other matters — the death of his father, his mother’s long illness, a change of gender identity — took center stage. “I didn’t write for six or seven years,” notes Paino. “That said, I think my subconscious was still, in a sense, writing.”

Last year, he returned “wholeheartedly” to his craft. “Coming back to poetry has been incredibly satisfying,” Paino says. “For me, life without writing was unfocused and, in many ways, unfulfilling. Fortunately… my work is stronger now — not because of my transition, but because I matured during that time of silence.”

Paino will share new poems from his manuscript-in-progress, as well as selections from his first two books. The event — to be held in Doe Library’s Morrison Library — is co-sponsored by the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Studies Program.