Earth’s Crude Gravities

Part spiritual autobiography and part distilled observation, these poems address the reader with rare simplicity and openness, creating a profound sense of common ground between writer and reader: our being “at home in need.”

Patrick Friesen’s lyric sense is both natural and sophisticated; as you read him, music rises from the page, shaped by an ear attuned to the full range of sound, human and divine. And yet as intensely musical as these poems may be, they are imbued, as well, with the spirit of the painter Paul Cézanne, with all his doubts about the discipline to which he was devoted, his courage and persistence in continuing to paint. The lines “sitting in a red chair with a paring knife/ as if about to peel an apple/ a living blade a knife/ that loves one’s flesh” conjure up for me both a painting by, and the very image of, Cézanne.

Robert Hughes talks of Braque’s love of Cézanne for “‘sweeping painting clear of the idea of mastery.’ He loved Cézanne’s doubt, his doggedness, his concentration on the truth of the motif, and his lack of eloquence.”