BkMk Press Books

Inverted Fire


by Friman, Alice

Price: $11.95, 76 pages

ISBN: 9781886157071, 1997

Poetry. "Almost no one is good at both short and long poems, but Alice Friman is. Her poems 'Turnip' and 'Cherries' have sharp language, imagination and alert observation. INVERTED FIRE is good, a must" --Leo Connellan.

In a poem on the death of a friend's daughter, Alice Friman observes "how each heart-cracked moment/ arrives with its attendant image" ("Rachel Valentine"). The fifty-one poems of Inverted Fire collect as many such moments, the attendant images arriving in language as carefully exact as it is reluctant to insist or declaim. And at the heart of each poem lies what poetry always discovers when its attempts to speak the unsayable succeed: enigma always and everywhere. We are, these poems suggest, puzzles inhabiting and surrounded by mysteries. None of which, finally, can be explained but can be observed, wondered about, delineated, reported. It is not death [she says] but "life that is uncomfortable,/ sets the heart to ache, makes us,/ like a ten-month pregnancy,/ strain the confines of even good intentions" ("Flight to Australia"). But what these poems asseverate is that life is larger than these particulars, and that what it means and why it matters depend upon us. -- Indiana Review, Fall 1997

In the first part of the book, entitled Libra, Friman illustrates, among other elements, the balance between mythology and modern day images, dark and light, and love and separation. Friman's imagery is a complex marriage of words. The images intensify within each stanza. Each word is an image that fits neatly into the next phrase constructing a certain mood.

In Friman's collection, her major strengths fall in the pleasing arms of her incremental imagery. Strong multivalent imagery that appeals to the reader's pathos is also mixed with humor in this poetic vat to create works that are simultaneously funny and serious. There is verse that touches the commonly suffered paranoia presented in our culture. Friman's poetry becomes a commentary of fears shared in our time.

This collection clearly shows Alice Friman's well-developed craft. It demonstrates a wide scope of style and subject matter. The authentic conversation and presence of the concrete image both ordinary and celestial add to Friman's art. -- Puerto del Sol, Summer 1998

From the Publisher

The title is based on a line from Heraclitus: "stars are bowls of inverted fire." This book of accomplished poems is organized in four sections titled after heavenly bodies or events, but the poems themselves are heavenly only in the sense that the captured moments are universal-and that they impart a certain amount of enjoyment. The first time you read these poems you will note the rhythm and perhaps hear a narrative. The second time you read these poems you will glimpse her meaning. The third and fourth, ad infinitum, you will begin to invest each poem with a meaning of your own, thus making them your poems-your own memories to come back to time and again, as pleasurable as an aging family picture album.


Published 1997

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Kansas City Literary Events

Craig Johnson

Thursday, September 21, 2017
Kansas City, Mo.


Tracy K. Smith has been named the next U.S. Poet Laureate!

Hear poetry from her Pulitzer Prize-winning book, Life on Mars, on the New Letters on the Air half-hour show or a short excerpt on KCUR before she was in Kansas City last year. Find out more about our new ambassador for poetry from NPR.


Clarion Awards Selection CD Special

Jamaica KincaidJim ShepardGloria Vando & Anika ParisLuis Alberto Urrea, and Alex George, normally $7.99 per episode, this cd collection comes with over $15.00 in savings. Downloads of these programs have been reduced and are available through our archives.