Poetry Sampler: Books

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Windthrow & Salvage (2019)

In Withdraw and Salvage, Randall Freisinger shifts his always engaging voice to a minor key to focus on aging and loss, on our place in the universal entropy.  There is much here about human fallibility, suffering, and sorrow, always examined with insight and empathy.  But there are recuperative moments as well, for instance in a small-town slow- pitch tournament with its little world “closed and precisely composed of forgiveness/ and second chances.” There are also seriocomic ones, like when the Fisher King ends up at the Mayo Clinic. In the closing poem, the poet, to his wife’s bemusement, breaks into a dance at breakfast, to an inner tune that has “great lyrics, a good beat/you can really dance to, better now,/ if only for knowing the score.” This is a book for those who know the score—and for those still learning it.

            —William Trowbridge, author of Vanishing Point and Put This On, Please  (Red Hen Press) 


As its evocative title suggests, the poems in Windthrow & Salvage name & attend to many kinds of damage & repair – physical, climatic, psychic, emotional, generational & cultural.  The ampersand is a pivotal hinge here in these vignettes of loss & discovery, grief & reclamation. Both the past and present are vivid, alive, haunting. Freisinger’s poems teach us how to live within “the infinite, fugitive moment.”  It’s a specific, personal journey as well as a collective one – mythologized by such astute attention to details. These are poems of resilience, and not without some stunning moments of reflective humor along the way.  

            —Laurie Kutchins, author of Slope of the Child Everlasting and The Night Path (BOA Editions Ltd)                               

Randall Freisinger’s poems are witty, poignant, and lyrical, full of good stories, apt metaphor, and well-wrought sentences. Whether he writes about John Wayne movies, deaf students “shipped” to his elementary school, or finding evidence that his parents actually had sex, Freisinger’s poems celebrate the trials and triumphs of being human.  Windthrow & Salvage is a book that you’ll be glad to own.  

            —Charles Harper Webb, author of Sidebend World and Shadow Ball: New And Collected      Poems (Pitt Poetry Series)


Plato’s Breath (1997)

Freisinger's new poetry collection is inhabited alike by bright, tangible images and thoughtful, intricate meditations. Pumpkins, poultry houses, sperm tests, a vacuum cleaner salesman, a father's damaged brain, an anatomist's tools, a baby falling from a fourth-story window-all of these come to the page distinct and palpable. At the same time, the work finds a central inspiration in theoretical work like Jeremy Rifkin's social criticism. Poetry of both the mind and the heart, Plato's Breath embraces the power of imagination to transform the ordinary into an extraordinary affirmation of life.

    —from the Foreword by Herbert Leibowitz, Founding Editor of Parnassus Poetry

The poems in Plato’s Breath combine powerful personal narratives with a rich sense of language. They are a pleasure to read—a mixture of drama and noise that gives them an almost three-dimensional palpability. In addition, Freisinger’s attentiveness to the linguistic intricacies of English give testimony to his passion for poetry, both in its making and its celebration.

      —Stephen Dobyns, author of Velocities: New and Selected Poems 1966-1992 (Viking) and Winter’s Journey (Copper Canyon)

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 Nostalgia’s Thread (2009)

"Freisinger is a poet of insight and originality, and this is one terrific read!"

     --Jack Driscoll, author of  How Like An Angel and The Goat Fish and the Lover’s Knot (Made in Michigan Writers Series, Wayne State University Press)

"[T]his book is less an art critique than it is a literary tour de force."

     --Robert Stewart, editor, New Letters

In Nostalgia's Thread, poet Randall R. Freisinger presents accessible and provocative meditations on ten of Norman Rockwell's most familiar images--shedding new light on the work and demonstrating the dynamic relationship between art and its beholder.

The poems bear witness to the fact that each cultural era must reinterpret its rich artistic inheritance within the context of its current collective experience. With unflinching honesty and deep compassion, these poems present a personal and national past which is both comforting and disturbing, both "nostalgia's thread" and "the barbed wire / of memory.”

    —from the Foreword

Hand Shadows (1988)

In these poems Randall R. Freisinger imbues his subjects with their own life through his verbal equivalents of hand shadows. Replete with loving and healing gestures, the poems manipulate and thus overwhelm loss. The poet’s hands transform, counterbalance Death’s sleights of hand.

Here the Kirby Man’s magician hands lift a suburban woman out of anomie.  The hands of a father cut open a dog to remove the child’s nose it has swallowed—a real life fairy tale. And the hands of a stranger catch a baby thrown from a fourth-floor window by her father. If some of these dramas sound like fantasy, we have only to consult the local news.

Randall R. Freisinger’s poems are poems of redemption—via memory, via the loving hands of the poet. May we all be so well caught.

    —Carole Simmons Oles, A Selected History of Her Heart (University of New Mexico Press)


Running Patterns (1985)

There’s a quiet nobility and hard-won clarity in the poems of Randall Freisinger.  Delicate, elegiac but not resigned, he asks that his poems seek the hardest things: to help him live without delusion. Through their care and precision, these poems sustain us."

    —David Wojahn,author of Interrogation Palace: New and Selected Poems 1982-2004 and Mystery Train (Pitt Poetry Series)


Email: rfreisi@mtu.edu   © Randall Freisinger 2019