top of page


poems by Frank Paino

with a foreword by Nickole Brown


Orison Books
paper  / 84 pp.  /  $16.00
ISBN: 978-1-949039-07-8
Distributed to the trade by Itasca Books
1-800-901-3480  /
Publication Date: May 5, 2020




In his long-anticipated third poetry collection, Frank Paino sheds his singular light on the most obscure corners of history and human nature, assembling a hagiography of unorthodox saints. Paino’s poems teach us to look deeply at the unsettling realities from which we instinctually look away—and they show us the rich rewards of beauty and wisdom we can gain by doing so.




After two successful poetry books published by Cleveland State University Press, followed by twenty years of silence, Frank Paino is back with a book that will feed his ardent fans and impress those unfamiliar with his work.

—Maryfrances Wagner, New Letters


If Paino’s eye is often drawn to the grotesque and—as the collection’s title suggests—the obscure, he meditates on these with rapt attention, finding beauty in what otherwise would be merely lurid, discovering sublimity in kitsch, humor in the disconcerting, and life in the morbid.
—Brian Volck, "Close Reading": The Slant Books Blog


Obscura is accomplished and satisfying. If you’ve read Paino’s earlier work, you’ll be very glad for this new collection. If you’ve never come across Paino’s work before, start here, return to his other collections, and then wait eagerly with the rest of us for what will come next.

Lynn Domina


In an age and country that is (over)saturated with the first person lyric poem, Paino’s poems are especially remarkable. If this book was a museum, it would be one that houses curios and rarities and oddities alongside largely forgotten stories and tragedies, executions, and suicides—but since so many of the poems also explore the sacred, and the lives (and executions) of the saints, it might be a museum housed in a cathedral, say, or the other way around.

—Mark Wagenaar, Valparaiso Poetry Review


This work, with a fetish-like attention to detail, enters the chambers of history we often avoid, stepping into skins both human and beast. [. . .] [Paino’s] fascinations sift the wreckage out of grief, desperate to find a way we can all rightly live with so much loss. Because, reader, be warned: within these pages is no typical lyric meditation on how our bodies are destroyed or what becomes of them after their end. No, this is a book unlike anything else being written today. You won’t be likely to forget what you encounter here. To quote [Paino]’s description of an exquisitely beautiful photograph of a suicide victim who fell to her death: Once you’ve seen it, you’ll be "powerless to turn away."
Nickole Brown, from the foreword


In Frank Paino’s long-awaited new book, Obscura, the blessed and the profane both belie a state of bewilderment. The rapturous lyricism and the searing interiority zero in on what is difficult to behold. [. . .] In impeccably musical language, the poems in Obscura will consume you in their "ravenous fire."
Oliver de la Paz


Frank Paino’s lavishly dark Obscura questions our species’ seemingly endless ability to impose harm and destroy others in the name of faith, progress, or pleasure. In poems that unsettle—in the severely sensual way that Dickinson does, in the nauseatingly precise way that Plath does—Paino makes the historical timely, illuminating, like a brush tipped in toxic radium, our deepest interiors. I have been waiting a long time for this book, and will be reading it for years to come.
Kathy Fagan




Lavish, passionate, heretical, the poems in Paino’s debut collection read like illuminated leaves in a postmodern book of hours. These fearless poems go where they must with a visionary fervor, guiding the reader through the darkest passages of experience and reminding us of the best, most redemptive qualities of the human spirit.
Lynda Hull


The Rapture of Matter is one of the most impassioned, vigorous, and accomplished first books to be published in a good long while.  By turns fervent, elegiac, and dizzying in their momentum, the poems cast a powerful spell.  At a time when most poets seek to simply mimic the blandest aspects of the period style, Paino writes poems as if his life depended upon them.
David Wojahn


Seductive, edgy, gothic and sublime, these poems haunt the body as much as the soul. Paino’s Out of Eden quickens with the articulation of votive flames. The shadows they cast become, in his skilled hands, earthly pietas of a new transfiguring gospel which declares, "We / will never turn back toward any paradise where there is no fire and we have nothing, nothing to lose."
Beckian Fritz Goldberg





Frank Paino's first two volumes of poetry were published by Cleveland State University Press: The Rapture of Matter (1991) and Out of Eden (1997). He has received a number of awards for his work, including a 2016 Individual Excellence Award from The Ohio Arts Council, a Pushcart Prize, and The Cleveland Arts Prize in Literature. His poems have appeared in Antioch Review, Catamaran, Crazyhorse, The Gettysburg Review, Green Mountains Review, The Kenyon Review, North American Review, Prairie Schooner, Quarterly West, and World Literature Today, among other places.

Obscura, poems by Frank Paino

$16.00 Regular Price
$14.00Sale Price
bottom of page