Poems and Advice
Fried is a poet who will 'tense up' when she hears 'an affirming poem,' finding 'Sourness a kind of joy I try for intricately.' Her present-tense poems vividly record the impressions of our moment: road rage, smartphones, magnet loops, Facebook, a 'gun megachurch.' In 'Kissinger at the Louvre (Three Drafts),' the background of a cellphone self-portrait captures 'a dark figure' who 'looks familiar,' but 'I look fat in it,' a tourist decides, 'And deletes.' Fried announces she's not the kind of poet to place Kissinger before 'The Raft of the Medusa,' but of course, in making her point, she decorously does just that. 'Midnight Feeding' embodies Fried's ironic resistance to the romantic: taking cat food to a shed, she wears a baby monitor 'like a Miss America sash' and 'nothing / but underpants, flipflops.' The moon is out, but Fried spurns the poetic impulse: 'There are too many / stars in poems you have to get drunk to write.' . . . This is a commanding book, and its first and last poems especially stand out: 'Torment,' a biting narrative about narcissistic students, and 'Ask The Poetess,' a hilarious parody of advice columns and the poetry business.