Swimming with a Hundred Year Old Snapping Turtle
This book is broken into three sections. Section I, "Swimming with a Hundred Year Old Snapping Turtle," focuses on the natural world and contains meditations upon fear, grief, dreams, rage, and acceptance. Section II, "Just Like a Woman," contains poems about marriage, written in many voices. Section III, "One True Thing," speaks of mankind's search for meaning, for one true thing in a perilous world.
"When I read the poems in Manfred's fifth collection, I am reminded of how Miller Williams said, "A poem must be clear to be mysterious." I admire these poems for their physicality, precision, and transcendence, though I struggle to describe them -- like most real poems, the best way to speak about them is to say them. So I say this is "work that weaves a spell, and love,/ and breath -- uncounted, irretrievable, sacred breath/ flying from its cage of bones -- eagle-falling, fish-rising, free." -- Review in Minnesota Literature by Katrina Vandenberg
Poet John Calvin Rezmerski says, "I've heard Freya Manfred's poems characterized as ‘vivid and physical,’ ‘deep and charming’ and ‘magical.’ That's all true, but it leaves out two important things: her poetry is full of elemental intimacy between self and nature, and it is steeped in beauty, whether she's writing about discovery or loss. This collection gives us joy, contentment, and melancholy, alerting us to the beauty of our worldly connections, in straightforward but agile language. In her poems, you can always find the feeling and embrace it.
Poet Robert Bly says, "This is the best book of poems Freya Manfred has written. She has always been brave, but these poems are more feisty and touching."
Ed. Scott King, Red Dragonfly Press, www.reddragonflypress.org. 2008. 68 pgs. (With artwork by Manfred's sons, Bly and Rowan Pope, www.popebrothersart.org.)