Diane Frank’s poetry first came to my attention when I met her at an Iowa Poetry Association Workshop in Des Moines, Iowa several years ago in the fall of 1999. IPA had invited her to critique poetry submissions by IPA members at their fall poetry workshop that year. For me it was a day that in some ways changed the course of my life. Diane Frank, it turns out, has a gift for nurturing successful writing of poetry in budding writers. She does this by finding both the merit and the fault in poet submissions with encouragement and challenge to stretch and reach for more.
Oddly enough, that day, Diane had reached out to another aspiring poet in the room, and I was the one who latched onto the challenge like Velcro on a tennis shoe. A young women from Albia, IA, named Holly Schippers had submitted a poem titled, “In The End” and while Diane wasn’t necessarily enthralled with the format of the poem, she saw plenty of merit in the strength of each individual line, and suggested Holly write a set of essay poems based on those line. Holly didn’t, but with Holly’s gracious permission, I did. The culmination of that project was a self-published poetry book, ‘SLICE OF LIFE’ POETRY, that I published in 2000, a collection of poetry that won an Honorable Mention from the State of Iowa Branch of American Pen Women that year at their annual writing contest in the published books category.
So I was acquainted with Diane Frank’s reputation as a poet when I bought a copy of her first poetry collection, THE WINTER LIFE OF SHOOTING STARS. Diane has this unique gift for stretching the meanings of language to new dimensions, creating beautiful imagery while delving into ridiculously deep subject matter. One poem from that collection seemed to jump out and grab me;
“Dancing at Old Threshers'” (an excerpt)
Tangerine sunset floats low on the horizon.
The moon is orbiting around your hat.
I dance with you between rows
of early September corn,
your Amish beard a field of uncut hay.
If you haven’t danced under a Harvest moon in September, you suddenly find yourself wanting to do exactly that, feeling like you’ve just dipped into the poem and become the participant. That is obviously Frank’s gift, and once again, she delivers it with refreshing turns and twists of phrases in her latest poetry collection, SWAN LIGHT. In a multitude of ways the iconic swan glides through poem to poem in a symbolic metaphor of life and hope.
“By a Famhouse in Corvallis” (an excerpt)
We swim inside
swan light, sky ballet
lifting through the aurora.
Eggshell blue notes, crazy happy,
“Letter to Alaska”
Inside the aurora
one of my swans floats through–
swim throught the water
the alphabet of your skin.
Diving into Diane’s SWAN LIGHT is like drifting into a series of mysterious episodes of your life that hold a central key, a central theme, a central drifting swan, when you recognize them and put all the pieces together. It’s done with beauty, perception, and eloquence, and it’s universality makes it an easy read into a new dimension in the use of language.