In Speak, Mother, Freya Manfred explores the mystery of dreams, love, and longing, as well as the power of loneliness, illness, fear, and death. In these lyrical, intuitive, and daring poems she brings some awareness and light into the darkness.
Freya Manfred always startles me by how close she gets to everything she sees.
– Philip Roth, Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist
Freya Manfred’s poems speak often of the loneliness inherent in being alive in this world and the feelings of inadequacy, fear and helplessness. She says,
Lonely as a sore throat.
Lonely as a child singing in the dark
and she says,
I’m not as brave as many others,
or as calm, or strong.
She also says,
Each day I feel more lost, yet more in love with life,
among the growing crowds of the dead and dying.
Each night I feel afraid, yet more true to myself.
This is the fulcrum, it seems to me, on which the poems balance, the maddening contradiction that is this life. Though she confesses weakness, she faces head on the deaths of her parents, the losses and the sadness, and transforms these experiences into hard-won, beautiful, moving works of art, a vision of what she calls,
this sad, sweet, tragic, Fourth of July world.
– Louis Jenkins, author of Tin Flag: New & Selected Prose Poems
Freya Manfred is one of our truth-tellers, and in this new book of dream and memory, she speaks with the wry tenderness that comes when a woman can say “Now I’m the mother of the mother of me.” I started making a list of my favorite poems in Speak, Mother, and it grew to include every poem in the book. This is a book you’ll keep on top of that stack of books by your reading lamp; this is a book you will want to share with everyone you know.
– Joyce Sutphen, Minnesota Poet Laureate
Ed. Scott King, Red Dragonfly Press, www.reddragonflypress.org. 2008. 100 pgs. (With cover by Manfred's son, Rowan Pope, www.popebrothersart.org.)