By Amy Lukac
On April 16, students and professors flooded Beers Lecture Hall to witness nationally recognized poet Daisy Fried recite poetry.
“This is a very beautiful day to be inside listening to poetry, so thank you very much to all of you for coming,” Fried started.
Fried informed the audience that she would read from all three of her books: “Women’s Poetry: Poems and Advice,” which was named by Library Journal as one of the five best poetry books of 2013, “My Brother is Getting Arrested Again,” which was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, and “She Didn’t Mean To Do It,” which won the Agnes Lynch Starrett Award.
Fried, faculty member of the Warren Wilson College MFA Program for Writers, has received many poetry awards, including the “Guggenheim, Hodder and Pew Fellowships.”
Her recent poems have been published in the “London Review of Books,” “The Nation,” “The New Republic,” “Poetry,” “The Threepenny Review,” and “Best American Poetry 2013.”
Introducing her first poem, she asked the audience if they still had landlines and if those landlines had cords attached to the receiver. After everyone laughed and commented, Fried explained that her first poem was called “Cordless,” and it was written when the cordless phone was more of a novelty, as well as poor technology.
In the beginning of the poem, Fried imitated the message she received on her answering machine from a 12-year-old voice thanking her for joining Amnesty International.
“I’d like to tell you about how thousands of people suffer torture and prison around the world just for speaking out against their governments. So can you send an emergency contribution?” Fried imitated a young girl’s voice perfectly and made listeners laugh.
Before her next poem, Fried said, “No matter what your teachers tell you, there’re only three rules for poetry: never write about babies, never write about pets — especially kittens — and never write about getting drunk.”
“Shooting Tanisha” was the next poem. Before reading, Fried explained that this poem is about three of her cousins that were considered the “bad ones” when they were all younger, and how their lives are today.
“Okay seriously, I didn’t intend this, but I do notice that three of those poems had drinking in it,” Fried said. Her next poem, “Midnight Feeding,” was read with a humorous, mocking tone. This is a poem about being in love with the messiness of her life.
Fried then read and introduced her next poem called “Econo Motel, Ocean City,” which was a narrative that went back and forth between her time in a hotel room down at the Jersey Shore and the Sci-Fi movie that was playing in the room.
“So my daughter, who is now eight, was quite young when she said to me, ‘My poems are better than yours because mine have rhyme and rhythm and yours only tell stories.’ She was right in that distinction,” Fried said.
She then went on about how poetry is both lyric and narrative. “Lyric was on my mind when I wrote this poem, which is called ‘Lyric,’ and it’s quiet narrative,” she added.
After she read “Lyric,” she talked a little bit about the 18th century poet Christopher Smart and his poem “Jubilate Agno.” She added that the poem she was going to read next, “Jubilate South Philly: City Fourteen,” was influenced by Smart’s poem.
Fried’s next poem, “Carnival in Spring,” she wrote in the 1990s after the stabbing of a teenage girl by another teenage girl at a carnival Philadelphia. Fried explained that it was reported before the teenager died that her last words were, “Guys, I can’t breathe.”
“Slaughterhouse Island” was next, but before reading Fried warned the audience that she sings a little in this poem.
Fried’s second to last poem, “My Brother is Getting Arrested Again,” included repetition. The repeated line was the title, and it also included all of the trouble her brother got into because of protesting.
Lastly, Fried mentioned that a 20th century poet, Marianne Moore, influenced her last poem. It was called “Woman’s Poetry.”
Everyone applauded when she finished her last word. After the applause settled, Fried answered questions. After all questions were answered, students lined up to talk to Fried and to buy her books.
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