cover image The Year the City Emptied

The Year the City Emptied

Daisy Fried. Flood Editions, $15.95 trade paper (80p) ISBN 978-1-7332734-8-0

Fried follows Poems and Advice with a collection that assembles translations and loose interpretations of poems by the 19th-century French poet Charles Baudelaire. In the collection’s foreword, Fried admits: “I don’t know French well and I don’t like Baudelaire much—he oozes with decay, pestilence, death, and adjectives.” Reworking his poems “without the grave difficulty of confronting a completely blank page” helped Fried make sense of political unrest, the illness and death of a spouse, and the global lockdown of 2020. These fresh interpretations revel in Baudelaire’s signature exaggerated and florid misery, audible in Fried’s “Temper” series (interpreted from Baudelaire’s “Spleen”): “The people all are poison spiders/ Spreading their nets in my brain.” Elsewhere, her own voice and experiences take over. Her version of “Swan” is titled “The Goose,” and she sets the poem in Philadelphia during lockdown and a protest. Elsewhere, she mourns her husband: “I don’t want to say I’m gnawed by longing/ For a man like a city, city like a man/ Whose mind’s a ruined city—/ I’m bored with these feelings they call grief.” Fried shows readers that Baudelaire’s poems have provocative things to say about 2020, tailoring them for modern times with her own original flourishes. (Mar.)