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by Susan Landers

“Franklinstein is church of stained glass truth-telling.”
– Yolanda Wisher, Philadelphia Poet Laureate

This hybrid genre collection of poetry and prose tells the story of one Philadelphia neighborhood, Germantown—an historic, beloved place, wrestling with legacies of colonialism, racism, and capitalism.

Drawing from interviews, historical research, and two divergent but quintessential American texts (The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin and Gertrude Stein’s The Making of Americans), Landers’ Franklinstein is a monster readers have not encountered before.

“Endlessly beginning, Franklinstein succeeds in recording its failure to coalesce into a monument to either memory or history. Drawing on two great American failures, Franklin’s The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin and Stein’s The Making of Americans: Being a History of a Family’s Progress, Landers shows how both of her ur-texts remain shadowed by their English origins, Bunyan’s The Pilgrim’s Progress from This World to That Which Is to Come; Delivered under the Similitude of a Dream. Landers’ monstrosity is less a meeting of minds (Franklin’s, Stein’s and Landers’) than the clash of geographies (e.g., Germantown and Mt. Airy), races (black and white), Christian denominations (Protestant and Catholic) and, most poignantly, the world of adults and that of children (the book is framed, and thus haunted, by the narrator’s memory of her daily stare-downs with a pedophile). This verse memoir, prose elegy and documentary expose will remind some readers of Rukeyser’s The Book of the Dead which, we must recall, is also a book of the living. And Landers pays tribute to the worlds that supplanted hers, that world of those living now.”
– Tyrone Williams

Franklinstein is a church of stained glass truth-telling. These poems with their brick and bittersweet refrains, they are cast-ironed and tender, a blueprint for preserving the story of us and our neighborhoods. Landers found in Germantown a poetry of once and now, a poetry of searching for the marrow of where we’re from in each other.”
– Yolanda Wisher, Philadelphia Poet Laureate

Franklinstein captures in feeling and form one glorious (and decrepit) manner of originating in this America. This is the Germantown I know: westernmost, flooded, lost in the woods of its baby kind of ruins, a spittle of street names along Wissahickon Creek. Sue Landers’ study, personal on a strange scale— ‘It was 1976 in Philadelphia and we were all Benjamin Franklin’—is not local or colorful. She derives a poetics of urban history, of being from, really from, a place, Philadelphia, that cuts itself into your skin. You will always be calling out from this junction, Wayne.”
– Simone White

Susan Landers is the author of 248 mgs.: a panic picnic and Covers, both published by O Books. Her chapbooks include 15: A Poetic Engagement with the Chicago Manual of Style and What I Was Tweeting While You Were On Facebook. She was the founding editor of the journal Pom2 and has an MFA from George Mason University. She lives in Brooklyn.

144 pages
ISBN: 978-1-931824-64-4
Publication date: April 2016


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