Confessions of a Poetic Pedagogue

We hear in all things the reverberant Word of Love spoken by the Father. A Word of flesh and blood, of romance and solidarity. A singing Word, a bleeding Word. A Word of deep delight and universal intimacy. A Word infusing a New City into this world through hearts that will receive and in turn communicate the very eros of God.

To serve this Word is the greatest joy.

My name is David Franks. I am a poet, theologian, and activist.

My life has been an odyssey, no Ithaca in sight: born in Taiwan and raised a Baptist in Arkansas. In 1998, I was received into the Catholic Church, the same night as the Accidental Mystic. I am the doting father of six incomparable children, the pearls of the world, prized beyond price.

“I’m from Pine Bluff Arkansas and I’m a fugitive from the ways of this world.”

– Cormac McCarthy, Child of God

A profound personal crisis in my life unfolding over the last several years has led to a long and searing dark night, but the good Father always knows what He is doing. From exilic agony has come the writing of poetry and the beginning of a new and more authentic life, one closer to the crucified Heart of Jesus.

Before my personal deluge, I was a professor for nine years at the major seminary for New England, Saint John’s. There I had the opportunity to implement a vision of theological education as thoroughly informed by the liberal arts. There can be no renewal of American Catholicism, or indeed of American democracy, without the capaciousness of mind and heart that the liberal arts should facilitate—an eros for questioning and for dialogue and for seeing things from unsuspected angles that knits together the social body. And theology cannot be the architectonic science unless theologians are actually cultured and teach theology in a way that draws each wonderful reality into the crucified wisdom and love of Jesus.

Essential to my pedagogy at the Seminary was infusing the liberal arts ethos into each course, from moral theology to the Catechism to Catholic social doctrine to the doctrine of God, especially in the Friday Formation Colloquium—a thrill ride that ranged through art, music, urban theory, Walter Benjamin, Chesterton, Lewis, Saint Catherine of Siena, Saint John of the Cross, Pope Benedict XVI, Dante, Kierkegaard, Willa Cather, Walker Percy, etc. What I saw in my students was the kindling of a new passion, the recognition of a different way of being-in-the-world.

I have the opportunity to continue this pedagogical method in the Lincoln Forum for a Pro-Life Republic hosted by Massachusetts Citizens for Life, for which I serve as chairman of the board: I am also the convener of The Great Conversation: How Should We Live? at the Abigail Adams Institute, which recently received a National Endowment for the Humanities award for promoting general cultural literacy, raising the big questions, and fostering a spirit of intellectual friendship.

While poetry infuses all I write, you can find a sampling of my poems on my separate website,, as well as other reflections and articles I have written. I also invite you to become friends with me on Facebook, where a generous and insightful community of minds participates in stimulating dialogues on faith, culture, current affairs, poetry, music, and more.

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