Working in Flour

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From the poet wrestling the saleswoman behind the counter at the chocolate shop for a plate of free samples to Cain slaying Abel in Iraq to appease his savage God, from a dinner with friends spoiled by the intrusion of a gnat to a bungled job at the bakery to antic, surreal sexual encounters to T.S. Eliot eating a bagel and lox and then fox trotting with a slip to Bob Dylan quaking like a duck, these comic visionary poems succeed in transforming even the most ordinary event into a parable of our struggle to ...
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Overview

From the poet wrestling the saleswoman behind the counter at the chocolate shop for a plate of free samples to Cain slaying Abel in Iraq to appease his savage God, from a dinner with friends spoiled by the intrusion of a gnat to a bungled job at the bakery to antic, surreal sexual encounters to T.S. Eliot eating a bagel and lox and then fox trotting with a slip to Bob Dylan quaking like a duck, these comic visionary poems succeed in transforming even the most ordinary event into a parable of our struggle to retain our humanity in this "soiled world," where torture, war, deadly epidemics, genocides natural disasters, and mass deaths have become commonplace. Working in Flour reveals the tragic comic dimension of our existence in lyric poems infused with a historical consciousness. The wildly hilarious moment is set against the tragic losses that haunt our lives. The characters in this book might have walked right out the pages of a Gogol or Isaac Babel Story. So much sadness and pain and yet the poems will make you laugh out loud.
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What People Are Saying

Gerald Stern
"Jeff Friedman is a great liar and an even greater comedian. As a liar, he remembers everything and nothing from the last two thousand years. As a comedian, he knows hyperbole, pacing, irony, and all the others. He can't fool me though, he's a true poet and those are façades. If he had written nothing but 'Poem for Ross Gay.' If he had written nothing but 'My Shammai.'"
Sharon Dolin
"From Working in Flour's opening poem's comic-demotic-parodic confession of taking all the chocolate samples in a store, we know we are in the company of a poet who knows, as did Amichai, that we must laugh and cry at the same time. Jeff Friedman has written a wise and funny book, filled with bittersweet memories of a first kiss, work blunders, reconjurings of a Jewish working-class family, as well as antic surreal poems about sex. His new political and biblical poems read like small contemporary parables of mythic dimension. For its range of poems and its comic visionary American voice, Working in Flour is bloomin' terrific!"
Ilya Kaminsky
"Any reader who finds Working in Flour in the bookstore should start reading with poems such as 'Notes from a Love Life' or 'Ishmael' or 'Presidential Logic' or 'Bridge Street Café' or 'Sotto Voce'—the spell and trance of their tone coupled with their humor will seduce you into buying this book. And buy it you should. It is marvelous."
Gerald Stern
Jeff Friedman is a great liar and an even greater comedian. As a liar, he remembers everything and nothing from the last two thousand years. As a comedian, he knows hyperbole, pacing, irony, and all the others. He can’t fool me though, he’s a true poet and those are facades. If he had written nothing but “Poem for Ross Gay.” If he had written nothing but “My Shammai.” --(Gerald Stern)
Sharon Dolin
From Working in Flour’s opening poem’s comic-demotic-parodic confession of taking all the chocolate samples in a store, we know we are in the company of a poet who knows, as did Amichai, that we must laugh and cry at the same time. Jeff Friedman has written a wise and funny book, filled with bittersweet memories of a first kiss, work blunders, reconjurings of a Jewish working-class family, as well as antic surreal poems about sex. His new political and biblical poems read like small contemporary parables of mythic dimension. For its range of poems and its comic visionary American voice, Working in Flour is bloomin’ terrific! --(Sharon Dolin)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780887485336
  • Publisher: Carnegie-Mellon University Press
  • Publication date: 1/17/2011
  • Series: Carnegie Mellon Poetry Series
  • Pages: 88
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.40 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author

JEFF FRIEDMAN is the author of four previous collections of poetry: Black Threads, Taking Down the Angel, Scattering the Ashes, and The Record-Breaking Heat Wave. He teaches at Keene State College and lives in West Lebanon, New Hampshire, with the painter Colleen Randall and their dog, Bekka.
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Table of Contents

Phaeton

ONE
I Did It
Working in Flour
Poem for Ross Gay
Omen
Hagar
Summer 1973
Notes from a Love Life
Walking Uphill: A Memoir
Price of a Kiss
The Truce
Ugliness
The War on Fat, Frontenac Plaza
Rebekah

TWO
Cashing In
The Binding
Sunday at the Deli
Breaking Pitch
Father to Son
Son of Apollo
Ishmael
My Shammai
No One Called

THREE
Comice
The Orgasm in Late Afternoon
Walking with Chuck
Sunday Morning Breakfast
Route 12
Left Hand
Shallot
Night of the Gnat
Luna Moth
In My Book
On Behalf of the Prick
Making It
At Burdick's
Yom Kippur

FOUR
Presidential Logic
Note from the Emperor
Iraq
New Tape of Bin Laden
Miriam at the Well
Bridge Street Cafe
Ararat
The Survivors
Sotto Voce
Salesman
Ladder
Friday Night Service
Bob Dylan Is God
Eliot Was a Great Poet
Rosh Hashanah

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