My Fault

Leora Fridman. Cleveland State Univ. Poetry Center, $16 trade paper (86p) ISBN 978-0-9963167-1-2
Fridman's debut collection, winner of the 2015 CSU Poetry Center First Book Competition, belies its small size in the multilayered complexity of its deeply evocative poems. These exacting, associative poems are more straightforward than coy or seductive, despite their many layers and complexity, and they continually question their assumptions, jostling with their own "conscientious/ waste" and "urge to be afraid." Fridman makes her own personal responsibility and political complicity a major source of exploration. Authentic self-interrogation requires ego suspension rarely achieved in a debut; Fridman accomplishes it with perceptive empathy and aplomb. Ethically astute and wildly caring, she is "laughing at/ how much human I am,/ how pressed I am to this/ place," even if "we remain unable/ to curtail ourselves." Both cerebral and soul-baring, Fridman's poems are vulnerable without being confessional; they don't invite pity or rescue, and much remains unsaid. Instead, her vulnerability arises from intimacy, a satisfaction in caretaking that is braced by historical and sociopolitical awareness. Fridman's work gently asks readers to examine their own privilege by being brave enough to go first. "You are never heard talking/ without caution," she writes. This caution shapes skillful work that's slow to reveal itself. Rather than mythologize or attempt to be arch, Fridman lays bare: "The more you can tell the more you can/ live among." (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 09/05/2016
Release date: 04/01/2016
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