Book Acquired Recently: Philip Fried’s Early/Late

Fried, Philip. Early/Late: New & Selected Poems. Cliffs of Moher: Salmon, 2011.

The New York City-based poet Philip Fried gave a delightful reading at Utica College this afternoon, and I bought his book afterwards. I had only read a few of Fried’s poems in anthologies before, and am very glad to have had this chance to experience more of his work. The poems he read are rife with sharp, vibrant story lines that often use a wry sense of humor to draw the reader in. Many of them are explicitly political, but not at the expense of artistry, a rarity. If you love poetry, you should be reading his work, and if you are not yet into poetry, his work is a good, accessible place to start.

I had the opportunity to have lunch with Fried after the reading. He is a lovely person: kind, well-read, unpretentious, with a clean-cut sartorial panache about him. He seemed genuinely interested in getting to know me and the others at the meal even though we were strangers, and projected an infectious love of literature throughout the conversation. Being around him was incredibly energizing because it reminded me why I love literature and believe in the importance of teaching it. There’s just something we get in literature that we can’t get anywhere else.

Published by danielshankcruz

I grew up in New York City and lived in Lancaster, Pennsylvania; Goshen, Indiana; DeKalb, Illinois; and Salt Lake City, Utah before coming to Utica, New York. My mother’s family is Swiss-German Mennonite (i.e., it’s an ethnicity, not necessarily a theological persuasion) and my father’s family is Puerto Rican. I have a Ph.D. in English and currently teach at Utica College. I have also taught at Northern Illinois University and Westminster College in Salt Lake City. My teaching and scholarship are motivated by a passion for social justice, which is why my research focuses on the literature of oppressed groups, especially LGBT persons and people of color. While I primarily read and write about fiction, I am also a devoted reader of poetry because, as William Carlos Williams writes, “It is difficult / to get the news from poems / yet [people] die miserably every day / for lack / of what is found there.” Thinkers who influence me include Marina Abramovic, Kathy Acker, Di Brandt, Ana Castillo, Samuel R. Delany, Percival Everett, Essex Hemphill, Jane Jacobs, Walt Whitman, and the New York School of poets. I am also fond of queer Mennonite writers such as Stephen Beachy, Jan Guenther Braun, Lynnette Dueck/D’anna, and Casey Plett. In my free time I’m either reading, writing the occasional poem, playing board games (especially Scrabble, backgammon, and chess), watching sports (Let’s Go, Mets!), or cooking (curries, stews, roasts…).

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