Wood strips, cross-purposed into lattice, made
this nursery of interstices—a place
that softened, then admitted, sun with shade,
baffled the wind and rain, broke open space.
It’s now more skeletal, a ghostly room
the garden seemed to grow, in disrepair,
long empty and well past its final bloom.
Less lumbered, though, it cultivates the air
by shedding cedar slats for open sky.
As if, designed to never seem quite finished,
it had a choice to seal and stultify
or take its weather straight and undiminished,
grow larger but be less precisely here,
break with its elements, and disappear.
|Virtue, Big as Sin is
published by Able Muse Press. Wide-ranging in
theme and style, it illuminates everyday vignettes with
solicitous spotlights such as the bereaved son sorting the
contents of his father’s medicine cabinet, or the father
whose son’s driver’s education recalls the time his own
“unharnessed” Mustang went “bungeeing” around a bend; it
celebrates the artist’s creative highs, or reflects on the
misfortunate who is forever nearing the threshold of
achievement, aware that life may prove a “most inept
librettist” and should thus be paired with our “strongest
song.” Osen’s dexterity with both formal and free verse is
apparent. His wit and humor prevent the serious from
becoming ponderous while his intelligent insight lends
depth to the lighthearted. Reading and rereading this
outstanding debut collection, it is easy to see why—from
the first poem to the last—it is a worthy winner of the
2012 Able Muse Book Award.
Mary Jo Salter (Judge, 2012 Able Muse Book Award) writes:
Frank Osen’s Virtue, Big as Sin offers one witty, elegant poem after another. The rhymes are especially clever, the meter sure, the stanzas well-shaped, but this poet’s sense of proportion is also reflected in wisdom (and what is wisdom but a sense of proportion?). An urbane maker of sparkling phrases like “that genuine Ur of the ersatz,” Osen can also write plainly, movingly, about a young girl’s funeral. And he reflects often on art itself, which he so rightly calls “the conjured awe.”
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Frank Osen was born in Yokosuka, Japan, in 1954, grew up in Southern California, and is a graduate of the University of California at Berkeley and Loyola Law School in Los Angeles. He worked for many years in law, as general counsel to health care companies and also in real estate investment. He lives in Pasadena, California, and walks to work at the Huntington Library. He and his wife, Susan, have been married for thirty years and have three grown children. Virtue, Big as Sin is his first full-length collection and the winner of the 2012 Able Muse Book Award.