Kelly Cherry praises Friman’s poems for their “brilliant language, startling imagery, fiercely accurate allusion, and bravery.” This is a poet who, as Judith Kitchen puts it, combines “serious frivolity with fervent solemnity.” “The sorrowful runs alongside the absurd: the living collide with the dead,” said Robin Becker in The Women’s Review of Books.
In awarding Alice Friman the 2012 Georgia Author of the Year Award for Poetry, Ralph T. Wilson describes Friman’s poems as being “mature and sustained in vision, with an eloquence that illustrates poetry as a species of musical speech while retaining a quality still conversational. The poems are insightful, witty, and beautifully made.”
It is perhaps Friman’s wit that draws me to her work over and over. Always succinct, always with language that not only sparkles but dances off the page and yet also feels as if the poet is right there in the room talking to you, and talking hard-scrabble sense, telling you what you’ve needed to hear all along and weren’t quite brave enough to admit.
For these are indeed “brave poems,” writes Brooke Horvath in Prairie Schooner; “exploratory, less the repository of answers than traces of the search for them, ‘knowing / full well the coming sacrifice, / the shriveling end’” (“The Price”). As Jo McDougall puts it, these are poems “as rich and textured as novels. Lusty, nuanced, and crisply wise, they remind us who and what we tragically, comically are.” “Exciting, these poems,” Peggy Shumaker says about Friman’s fifth collection Vinculum. “Impatient, irreverent, irrepressible. Defiant. Dazzling.”
In awarding the Ezra Pound Poetry Prize to Zoo, Friman’s third full-length collection, X. J. Kennedy said, “Here’s a poet with lively eyes, ears, and imagination. Her poems engrave themselves in memory by their accurate metaphors and sharp details. She can be wild without losing control, tender without ever waxing sentimental.”
The poems included here are just a small sample of the wit, the dazzle, the courage of Alice Friman’s exquisitely crafted work.