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.