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Literature & Fiction - Poetry New Titles

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When I Was Young & Old: poems & prose

ISBN: 9781947237513
Binding: Paperback
Author: Freya Manfred
Pages: 106
Trim: 6 x 9 inches
Published: 04/25/2023

As the title suggests, Freya Manfred's new collection of poetry and prose explores those evocative yet often illusive connections between experience, memory, and emotion. Often the poet questions herself, finds herself briefly unmoored and filled with a nameless yearning that crystallizes in images of the nature that surrounds her or of loved ones, now present or vividly remembered. "I want to laugh a liquid laugh," she writes at one point, "every gurgling morsel of me , cascading like water over singing stones..." Some of the lyrics—"In a Dream My Friend Sails Toward Me," for example—bring to mind the young Yeats, with their unabashedly romantic and fanciful imagery. Others deal with day-to-day events—planting a tree, eating dinner with her sons, swimming in the dark—from which a deeper resonance gradually emerges. The prose pieces counterbalance the poetic reflections, offering memories of childhood games and the anxious and exciting campus parties of young adulthood. This panoply of glimpses into a life richly lived yet also filled with longing unfolds with the simplicity and imaginative concreteness of a true master.


Freya Manfred is a longtime Midwesterner who has lived on both coasts. She attended Macalester College and Stanford University, and has received a Radcliffe Grant and a National Endowment for the Arts Grant. Her seventh collection, Swimming With A Hundred Year Old Snapping Turtle, won the 2009 Midwest Booksellers Choice Award for Poetry, and her poems have appeared in more than a hundred reviews and magazines and more than fifty anthologies. Her memoir, Frederick Manfred: A Daughter Remembers, was nominated for a Minnesota Book Award and an Iowa Historical Society Award. Her more recent memoir is Raising Twins: A True Life Adventure. She lives with her husband, screenwriter Thomas Pope, in Stillwater, Minnesota. Their sons, visual artists Bly Pope and Rowan Pope, have illustrated many of her books.


"This book reads like the no-holds-barred embrace from an old friend, not seen for many years. What stories she has to tell! What adventures she has been on! 'My constant desire is for closeness,' Manfred writes; whether this is a closeness to family or friends, to nature, to poetry, or to life itself and even to death, it is this intimacy that binds the book together into a whole. Grief and joy, humor and mystery; all belong together in this full embrace of a book." - Jim Moore

"Freya Manfred writes daringly direct, open-hearted poems that shimmer with fresh phrasing and linguistic music. She laments the waning strength and passion of old age but celebrates her seasoning and reasons to rejoice. An earthy mysticism keeps breaking through in poem after poem. She writes the most beautiful poems about swimming I've ever read. Don't dither, gentle reader. Plunge right in." - Bart Sutter

"This book is Freya Manfred's deep and tender reckoning with childhood and friendships, with love, losses, mothering, and 'daily mysteries.' I was drawn into a fluid circle of life, from birth to death, from youth to old age and round again. Although her writing is informed by the wisdom of aging, it's also 'wild, still wild' in its spirit and images––fresh as lilacs in spring and ancient as the moon." - Margaret Hasse

"Reading these poems is like going with Freya to the lakeshore for a morning swim in icy waters that are as still, and as deep, and as beautiful as they can be. Her poems plumb the natural world, dreams, and beloved friends and family as they dive beneath the surface of things to touch the inner core of this common journey we call life." - Philip S. Bryant

"In this mesmerizing collection of poetry and prose Freya Manfred immerses herself in the imagery of the natural world while delving deep into the liquid recesses of memory. There she finds, through both dreams and intense wakefulness, the joys, sorrows, gains and losses that defy description. Yet remarkably she finds the words." - Walt McLaughlin