SWIMMING WITH A HUNDRED YEAR OLD SNAPPING TURTLE -- Poetry


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."

Novelist Philip Roth says, "Freya Manfred always startles me by how close she gets to everything she sees. That's her tough luck, but it makes her a wonderful poet."

Ed. Scott King, Red Dragonfly Press, www.reddragonflypress.org. 2008. 68 pgs. (With artwork by Manfred's sons, Bly and Rowan Pope, www.popebrothersart.com.)

 

   

MY ONLY HOME -- Poetry


Poetry about mothering, raising children, and the death of a parent, concluding with a series of 39 lake poems, written in a boathouse.

Eliot Figman, poet and executive director of POETS & WRITERS magazine, says, "Manfred's subjects are family and friends and lakes in all seasons. Together, they are her 'home.'”

Poet Robert Bly says, "What I like about these poems is that they are not floating around inthe air or the intellect. The body takes them in. They are brave. The reader and the writer meet each other in the body."

Carol Bly says, "It is such a relief not to feel that she is lying or pinching other peoples' ideas. I find the poems marvelous -- her great sense of everything being sacred, and at the same time, somehow, really very funny. how can liturgy be a riot? But some of these poems really are."

Poet Laureate, Ted Kooser, says, "This is a lovely and moving collection of Freya Manfred's responses to a beloved place, written with humility, generosity, and a deep sense of gratitude."

Professor Charles Woodard says, "There's such a range of believable emotions here, and the poet's voice is so engaging and resonant and true. This is a book of poems for teachers looking for ways to motivate students to care about poetry."

Ed. Scott King, Red Dragonfly Press, www.reddragonflypress.org. 2003. 100 pgs. (With artwork by Manfred's sons, Bly and Rowan Pope, www.popebrothersart.com.)

   

FLESH AND BLOOD -- Poetry


Chapbook. Humorous and serious poems about the human body, from "Men's Tears" and "Menopause" to "Toes" and "Asses."

Ed. Scott King, Red Dragonfly Press, www.reddragonflypress.org. Hand-set metal type on hand-made paper. Hand-sewn. 2000. 18 pgs.

 

 

FREDERICK MANFRED: A DAUGHTER REMEMBERS -- Memoir


This poignant memoir recounts the artistic life and death of Freya Manfred's father, the prolific and highly regarded author Frederick Manfred. Using family letters and passages from her father's novels as well as her own memories, she explores their powerful personal and literary relationship, which spanned nearly five decades. She describes what it meant to be the daughter of a strong-willed man who was dedicated, sometimes at great cost, to a creative life. Her story starts with the tender power and beauty of his funeral in 1994, then moves back to a clear-eyed and often humorous depiction of their home life, which was shaped by her father's insistence on the quiet and solitude necessary for his writing. She remembers the shift in their relationship as her literary career blossomed and he added the roles of mentor and friend. Finally, she shares frank and loving details of her family's struggle to help her father die well.

Novelist Philip Roth says, "This rare book about the intimacy between a father and his daughter is notable for its affection, sensitivity, generosity, and gratitude. In a larger sense it is the revealing examination of an American writer's lifelong struggle with his material and with his cultural fate."

Poet Robert Bly says, "This is a very moving book. We often hear careful accounts of the life of an artist, but seldom the death of an artist. Freya's faithfulness to that transition is unusual and powerful."

(Nominated for a Minnesota Book Award and an Iowa History Award.)

Minnesota Historical Society Press, St. Paul, MN. 1999. 198 pgs.

   

MODERN AMERICAN WOMEN POETS -- Anthology, pgs. 306-319


Biographer Jean Gould portrays the lives and careers of women who are prominent in carrying on the heritage of the pioneers presented in the author's previous volume, AMERICAN WOMEN POETS, and whose works have earned a place in the literature of modern poetry, beginning with Muriel Rukeyser, and including Denise Levertov, Elizabeth Bishop, May Swenson, Sylvia Plath, Anne Sexton, Jean Garrigue, Maxine Kumin and Gwendolyn Brooks, as well as the younger poets, Carol Muske, Nikki Giovanni, Marge Piercy, Audre Lorde, Molly Peacock and Alice Walker. This volume includes a description of Manfred's childhood in Minnesota with her author father, Frederick Manfred, and journalist mother, Maryanna Manfred.

Dodd, Mead and Company, NY. 1984.

 

   

AMERICAN ROADS -- Poetry


A young woman's candid and evocative poetic journey into the American landscape, and into herself. A tender, subtly insightful, and often humorous look into the sensuous world she knows and loves, and into her own body and spirit. These poems also deal with a more painful loving of relatives and friends.

"A lively collection of poems -- witty, serious, and imaginative." -- Publisher's Weekly

"This is a fresh poetry of body and blood...it is loaded with intriguing sparks." -- The Chicago Sun Times

"A strong new talent to be watched, a poetic voice to be heard." -- St. Louis Post-Dispatch

"As well written as anything you'll find these days, informed with deep feeling about friendship, change, and blood knowledge." -- Los Angeles Times

Poet Peter Klappert says, "Freya Manfred has perfected a distinct, flesh-and-blood voice that puts her right there in the chair across from you -- funny, exuberant, tender, curious, rebuffed, angry, wounded and always disarmingly candid. I don't think I've felt the physical presence of a poet as clearly... We know the poems are serious because they are informed with humor: playful or dead-pan or just plain naked."

Ed. Peter Mayer, Overlook/Viking Press, NY, hardcover 1979, softcover 1985. 102 pgs.

   

YELLOW SQUASH WOMAN -- Poetry


1976. Love poems to men and close family members.

Biographer Jean Gould says, "Freya's second book...reveals the maturing, emerging person within the poet, fully aware of her womanhood; feminine but not feminist; positive in her independent outlook, but not political. She doesn't pound, but persuades, seemingly without trying."

Poet and essayist Linda Hasselstrom writes, "Rather than relying on simple stridency...or political statements, her work encompasses the myriad possibilities of woman, including herself."

Thorp Springs Press, Berkeley, CA. 1976. 56 pgs.

 

   

A GOLDENROD WILL GROW -- Poetry


Youthful, lyrical love poems to the earth.

Poet James Wright said, "There is a secret and proficient music in these poems that sings to itself, like the lake in Minnesota which the French mistranslated Lac Qui Parle, 'the lake that speaks,' after the Sioux for so long had been calling it 'the lake that whispers to itself.' This poet listens to herself. She hears the earth itself. Her approach to the earth is so patient and true that, I believe, her response to it, and to herself, will go on blossoming and blossoming. I can hear in her poems something that will outblossom hell itself and help us all to turn it back into earth again. I welcome these poems as I welcome spring."

Ed. James D. Thueson, Groveland Press, Minneapolis, MN, hardcover 1971, softcover 1975 and 1994. 64 pgs.