Saturday, January 16, 2010


Though I believe he was about my age and I remember him as a lot taller than me, and I'm six feet in my shoes, David Franks' personality and creative work was so impishly mischievous he seemed to me like a little kid.

He lived and worked in Baltimore when I knew him and was still operating in that area when he passed as far as I know. One of the greatest things about him was his enthusiasm. He always made me feel like he was my biggest fan, even using that as an excuse when he totally copped the last few lines of my best known poem of that time (the 1970s) "My Life" for one of his own that he then managed to get more widely circulated than mine for a while!

But it was almost impossible to get angry at him (though I did briefly anyway) because he was such a nebbish (as I understand that term, or do I mean mensch?). He was also handsome and well built, a real movie star type, especially because he had that special kind of charisma that enthusiasts have when they seem to have more going for themselves outwardly than those they're getting all enthusiastic about, if you get what I mean.

He was a conceptual or performance artist as well—or whatever the term is now for a poet who comes up with radically unique and individual ways of expressing their creativity visually and aurally other than just reading their poetry to an audience. And he was a kind of local monument in his dedication to poetry and art in the Baltimore area, which when I knew him best included DC as well.

I'm so sorry to hear he is gone, though it seems for the best as people always say, since he had been suffering from the cancer that as I understand it was the ultimate cause of his passing. His presence was always so vibrant and energetic and positive—and from my perspective happy—that the universe feels a little heavier knowing he won't be around, at least his physical body won't be, to liven up the scene around Baltimore if and when I'm there again and for those who already, or still, are.


Tom Bailey said...

Sad - he will be missed. I like your blog and the way you think is different.

Kindest regards,
Tom Bailey

Ed Baker said...

met him a few times around Hopkins in Baltimore ('70-'72) and before that at U ofMd he was my friend (Jim Carderelli)'s brother (Joe)'s friend..

good times for me

so, he was my age? 68?

Miles said...

Dad, you meant mensch. Nebbish according to the web means: "timid, unfortunate, simpleton". Mensch, on the other hand, (again according to the Web) means: "a decent responsible person with admirable characteristics".

Lally said...

Thanks Tom for the compliment.
Ed, I'm pretty sure he was around that age.
Miles, thanks for clearing that up and for gently reminding me that I can look these things up.
Maybe the part of me that was upset back in the day when David used lines of mine with no attribution (he did it more than once and thought it a justifiable artistic strategy, before all that visual arts similar "appropriation" movement, or hip-hop sampling, stuff)

Elisabeth said...

It sounds as though your friend was not so much nebbish as human. The way he once used your work.

I am glad you have painted a fuller picture here, and that you describe your friend/fellow artist through your eyes, to demonstrate your love and mixed feelings for a man who seems to have been larger than life.

These are the best obituaries to me, the ones that do not become hagiographies, but portray real people - warts and all, strengths and weaknesses.

davideberhardt said...

pome by long time david fan- baltimorean poet activist

a review of the memorial by dave is available on (google) "the baltimore brew" or- the poetry in baltimore website- pick chapt. entitled review of recent events

In the Constellation Eeyore- in mem, david franks

Who are you, who do you think we are?

It’s all so far, so far, so far.
Start in the constellation “Eeyore”- that guide star….
Pin a tail on it- go from there south in the southern sky…

That shadow had not looked that way before,
And since I’m asking why:
Vast forests to the north, bor-

eal taiga, the last time I saw my father,
Spoke to him- I can’t remember now.
There could be meaning, could be some how

Like the overtones to a piano string,
The clouds keep changing now that you mention it.
My pa liked cheese and crackers, that I know.

The forests of the night sky, forests of stars
Where you can go a long way before you meet another.
It’s all so far, so far, so far.

Who are you, who do you think we are?

david wld have liked capchas said...

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