From the Publisher
“Daisy Fried’s poetry is fluid and quicksilver as life seen close up. Here is an original voice: provocative, poignant, and often very funny.”
Joyce Carol Oates
“Fried’s vivacious sophomore effort is a breath of pure oxygen for the serious, politically engaged, unpretentious free-verse storytelling so popular in American poetry a generation ago and in eclipse since. Winningly personal, the poems are nevertheless artful, with a light touch to balance their heavy subjects of social and racial injustice.”
“The satirical tone here is delicious and the social observation is shrewd.”
Fried's vivacious sophomore effort is a breath of pure oxygen for the serious, politically engaged, unpretentious free-verse storytelling so popular in American poetry a generation ago and in eclipse since. Moving from her own bourgeois-bohemian domesticity to the tough kids of inner-city Philadelphia, Fried (She Didn't Mean to Do It) revives the personal anecdote and the narrative incident through wit, a sterling ear and a prosaic patience. In the title poem, Fried's brother goes to jail for his involvement in left-wing street protests; elsewhere Fried (who teaches at Smith College but flaunts her Philly connections) describes a first boyfriend, the sorrows of minimum-wage work, her aging left-wing Jewish aunts and the three things that have ever made her husband cry. Fried's opening poem takes the form of a message left on an answering machine; "Jubilate South Philly: City 14" adopts Christopher Smart's famous quasi-biblical praise poetry to describe a sassy pregnant teen, while "The Hawk" finds the right symbol to protest the Patriot Act. Winningly personal, the poems are nevertheless artful, with a light touch to balance their heavy subjects of social and racial injustice, closer perhaps to Grace Paley than to Philip Levine. (Mar.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Fried's first volume, She Didn't Mean To Do It, won the Agnes Lynch Starrett Poetry Prize. While this new volume is definitely of interest, there are so many dichotomies that readers might not know what to make of it. Fried attended Swarthmore College and has received several grants; her work has been published in the higher-end, often conservative poetry journals. Yet the narrator of many poems seems almost a female equivalent of Charles Bukowski. In "Go To Your Room," for example, we see the child lying "belly down, stomach/ muscles tight, head hanging/ off the bed-edge, arms straight out/ before her," understanding a moment later that "There are escapes and/ they are true things./ Mother, that ass, doesn't know./ Sun/ blasts the curtains open like legs." However hard-edged they become, these aren't necessarily "personal" poems, as pointed out directly in "The Conference Notes," where the speaker is talking to two women, and one observes, "She's writing down everything you say." Weaker poems become rhetorical and prosaic. At her best, as in "The Hawk" or the haunting "Doll Ritual," feminist and political concerns merge with imagery that's both subjective and universal. For larger collections.-Rochelle Ratner, formerly with Soho Weekly News, New York Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.