This month, we’re happy to bring you poems from JOHN FREEMAN’s forthcoming collection, The Park, out on May 5th from Copper Canyon Press.
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John Freeman is the editor of Freeman’s, a literary annual, and author of the poetry collections Maps and The Park, as well as three books of nonfiction, Dictionary of the Undoing, The Tyranny of E-mail, and How to Read a Novelist. He has also edited three anthologies of writing on inequality, including Tales of Two Americas and Tales of Two Planets, a new book about global inequality and climate change, forthcoming from Penguin. The former editor of Granta, he lives in New York, where he is writer-in-residence at New York University. The executive editor at Lit Hub, 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.
April 2020 Poetry Feature: Poems from John Freeman’s THE PARK
Backlit by the glow from a small passageway, he kneels into the fog of yellow light, head kissing the carpet. I step around him, respecting his privacy, when the mat becomes not prayer rug but builder’s tool, a black piece of tarmac, laid down before the bank so he could peer close, fix the dead motion sensor so that people with money could be seen, all doors opening for them.
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TRANSLATION IN PARIS By John Freeman
There are no editors in the café
called Les Éditeurs. There’s not
a single novelist in the Saint-
Germain store gilded by novels.
There are no beasts of the chase
paddocked in the park, but that’s what
the West Germanic word—parruk—meant.
It took the overrunning of London
by its immigrant population in 1680
to turn the word into the spot we’d
park humans, so they could stumble
around in bewilderment at how time
is translation, change is nature’s rime.
Folks, it’s September. Time to stow away that summer beach read and pull out the award-winning tome that’s going to get you noticed by the cute grad student in the coffee shop. This month, read about starkly different economic and cultural worlds existing side by side. As the poor and the rich, the colonizer and the native shift uneasily along slippery fault lines, these recommendations offer brutal looks at friction between and within communities. Harrowing and insightful, you’ll be so engrossed you won’t even notice the number written on your to-go cup.