Winner of the 1999 Agnes Lynch Starrett Poetry Prize The thirty-three narrative, linguistically-adventurous poems in She Didn’t Mean To Do It range freely among styles and voices. Examining human emotions and behavior in all their contradictions, Daisy Fried turns a perceptive eye on those around her. Fried integrates metaphoric flights and idiosyncratic narrative, surprising us with the details—”I saw that the wisteria/in dusk its same color hung (heavier than/the breasts of stabbed and stabber ever would be)”—while her characters traipse across lines and pages. These are poems about human relationships, mostly romantic and sexual. They’re also about jobs and work: urban, action-packed and socially aware.
Daisy Fried is a very talented, very serious, but also a very playful, young poet who deserves a wide audience. Her poems have two things—story and song—that are rare in poetry today, even among far more experienced poets. Though her voice doesn't sound like anyone else's, it has a subtle affinity with the jazzy, cool, humorous tones of writers like August Kleinzahler and Dean Young. Fried is a pleasure to read, but the pleasure is often mixed with something bitter, or salty, or hard, and that's what makes her so good.
Telegraphic nuggets. Frantic dispatches. Fried's poetry attacks and attacks, and gets through. And when it does, it does because she jams the right words into a strikingly original order with ferocity, intelligence and dash.
Of the urban landscape—its grit, power, ugly beauty, comedy and pain, Daisy Fried makes vital poetry. From a crew of girls shrieking and flirting out on the street the night before one of them marries, to skateboarders who are 'proud, unhumbled, as long as they shove and roll,' from scenes in bars to the layered story of a transit workers' strike, Fried knows her people, their nerves, their moves, their languages. She is right there. She celebrates and sings them.
Wise to the pity and humor of what goes on, Daisy Fried handles the most serious stuff with an easy dexterity, like a juggler working with hand grenades. She's got a one-of-a-kind, syncopated city-talking voice: book smart, street smart, sophisticated, and an ear so good it seems to pick up every human frequency, in poems off-beat and on target (hold on to your heart).
A brash, big-city, "ratatat" street-sly lyricism informs Daisy Fried's poems. Out of the fiery graffitispeak of Jersey and Philly girls swapping lore on their men and their menses; out of the heated battles of mother/daughter, male/female, and labor/management; out of all our missed opportunities and hard-won graces here at the dazzling, difficult start of our new millennium; out of a feisty operaesque duet in a button store, as well as out of the tough philosophy learned at piers, warehouses, and after-hours clubs, Daisy Fried has managed to fashion, finally, a life-enhancing vision that allows us to consider one another's "baby chick hearts/a little more tenderly." Her eye is brave, her language is omnivorous, her heart is bountifully chambered.
The poems successfully maintain a delicate balance, a unique and distinct interior logic.
Fried's poems bear abundant witness to the cruelties, the inanities, the subsudences that we live with, but ordinarily don't stop to think about. . . . Fried's vibrant delivery in these poems . . . infuses the appalling with poignancy, rges the reader out of numbness into vigorous response.
The poems in Daisy Fried's first collection of poetry, She Didn't Mean to Do It, read like tough, urban fables. Formally innovative and thematically challenging, these poems traverse the geography of sex and teenage initiation rights . . . [T]hese poems resist being pinned down. They roam the pages in a kind of tight, disruptive free verse.
Read Daisy Fried's inaugural book of poems, She Didn't Mean to Do It and you'll feel as if you're in Philadelphia.
Daisy Fried is the author of My Brother Is Getting Arrested Again, a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, and She Didn’t Mean to Do It, winner of the Agnes Lynch Starrett Poetry Prize. She has received Guggenheim, Hodder, and Pew Fellowships, a Pushcart Prize, and the Cohen Award from Ploughshares. Fried reviews poetry books for the New York Times, Poetry, and the Threepenny Review and was awarded Poetry magazine’s Editor’s Prize. She has taught creative writing at Bryn Mawr College and in Warren Wilson College’s low-residency MFA program. Fried lives in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.learn more