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Poem by Philip Fried

Philip Fried (pictured here) is a New York-based poet, little magazine editor, and poetry advocate. Eyewear is very glad to welcome him as this week's featured poet.

Fried’s poems have appeared in numerous journals and anthologies, including Poetry After 9-11: An Anthology of New York Poets. His three books of poetry are Mutual Trespasses (1988); Quantum Genesis (1997), which A.R. Ammons called “a major new testament”; and Big Men Speaking to Little Men (Salmon Poetry, 2006).

In addition to being a poet, Fried is the founding editor of The Manhattan Review, an international poetry journal that critics have called “excellent” and “lively.” And he collaborated with his wife, the fine-art photographer Lynn Saville, on a volume combining her nocturnal photographs with poetry from around the world: Acquainted with the Night (Rizzoli, 1997).

As a poetry advocate, Fried organized a successful nationwide campaign to increase the number and quality of poetry reviews in The New York Times. I first met Fried in London a few years ago, when he was reading for a launch of Poetry London. We had a good conversation one night about the state of poetry writing, publishing and reviewing, and it was clear he knows his stuff; in fact, Fried seems more engaged with developments in the UK than most any other contemporary American poet I've met.

I've invited him back to read in London for the Oxfam series in February 2007.

The Angels Laugh

And we, who are the vice presidents of creation,
promoted and promoted but only so high,
we, the company’s flesh and gristle, sinew

exposed by the slash of the heavenly accountant,
we laugh just like vice presidents charging expenses,
dining in solidarity, displaying

contempt for shame, that overcooked emotion,
we guffaw with bravado, shoulder to shaking shoulder,
like sides of beef displayed in a butcher’s window,

we howl so that even vegetables are meaty,
huge heads of broccoli, bulging beef tomatoes.
Red-faced and helpless in our strength, we belly-

laugh at heavenly or hellish curses,
those maliferous wisps, friable chars of language,
until our laughter splinters the floorboards and rafters,

from rib-eye sniggers to sirloin exultations,
we are the marbled flesh and fat of forgetting,
thick with oblivion, moist with amused juices.

poem by Philip Fried, from Big Men Speaking To Little Men (Salmon, 2006)


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