John Freeman’s first poetry collection charts the impact of place on human experience. In Beirut, Rio de Janeiro, Paris, Rome, and the foothills of a childhood hometown, Freeman navigates legacies of ruin and construction, illness and memory. Warm, mournful, and distinctly urban, Maps offers a compassionate perspective from the experience of one American embroiled in empire.
From You Are Here:
The city grinds
its molars at night, carefully mined
explosions boring cavities beneath
Manhattan, while other lines
ride all hours in yellow light, gliding
to stops at the zebra-painted beam
halfway down each platform,
conductor always pointing up, as if
to say, yes, you are here.
At the intersection of art and heart, this magnificent sheaf of voyages leads us through the di fficult and picturesque atlas of a life…. This is an enduring and rapturous account of a life’s journey to plumb the depths of the known in order to reveal the hidden and unknown. –D.A. Powell
What is mapped here, in John Freeman’s exquisite and robust poetry debut, are the territories of loss, pain, violence, and reckoning that make up a life. And also those of love, remembrance, and unabashed passion that make that same life livable. Maps is a consolation and a delight. —Tracy K. Smith
John Freeman’s astonishing book of poems shows us first an America that could once and sometimes still be experienced in a vacuum, removed from the brutal struggles that are the daily life of much of the world. Then he takes us into that world, where human tenderness is martyred and buried, day after day. In Freeman’s hands the most minimal scenes, the smallest gestures, record our persistence and fragility. Disconsolate, loving, burdened by memory, undeceived but somehow still doggedly hopeful, these poems help us to see a world we’re just beginning to map. –Mark Doty
John Freeman is an American writer and literary critic. A graduate of Swarthmore College, Freeman is the editor of Freeman’s, a literary biannual, and author of two books of nonfiction, The Tyranny of E-mail and How to Read a Novelist. He has also edited two anthologies of writing on inequality, Tales of Two Cities and Tales of Two Americas. The former editor of Granta, he lives in New York, where he teaches at The New School and is writer-in-residence at New York University. The executive editor at LitHub, he has published poems in Zyzzyva, The New Yorker, The Paris Review, and The Nation. His work has been translated into more than twenty languages.