EDITH by Meg Freitag

EDITH-Cover-FullCutout-BookPrizeForeword (1).jpg
EDITH-Cover-FullCutout-BookPrizeForeword (1).jpg

EDITH by Meg Freitag


Edith by Meg Freitag was selected by Dorianne Laux as the winner of the 2016 BOAAT Book Prize.

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“No one is free” says Bob Dylan, “even the birds are chained to the sky.”  Edith is a book about a bird, a beloved bird that dies an untimely death and is mourned accordingly. Edith is ethereal, part muse, part icon, part confidant, her name echoes through the poems in what Pound would call the “manner of the musical phrase”, the way the name Tarumba sounds through the work of the Mexican poet Jaime Sabines, or the name Naomi in Bill Knott’s first collection, repeats itself like a talisman.

She disappears only to reappear, spreading her wings over memory, loneliness, and self-imposed solitude, an ordinary life extraordinarily told. Freitag’s imagination flutters and swerves. A lyric and apocalyptic vision of love lost, these are poems of the murmuring, devouring self, written with the leaping exuberance of appetite, full of dark humor and underlying tenderness.  The surreal sensibility that drives these poems is full of surprise and precision, the images original, piling on top of one another:

“The stars fell into the river and rusted.”

“…The moon drains its blood / into an ocean on the other side of the world”.

“…the old life with its milk of tiny diamonds.”

In a time when so much of our poetry seems ironic and detached, its language overwrought or restrained, its associations timid or excessively mentalized, it’s a true pleasure to encounter this fresh new voice, vibrant and full of the wild sap of life. And like Edith, chained to the sky. 

                                                          — Dorianne Laux


Meg Freitag was born in Maine. She has a BA from Sarah Lawrence College and an MFA from UT Austin's Michener Center for Writers. Her work has appeared in or is forthcoming from Tin House, Boston Review, Indiana Review, and Black Warrior Review, among others. Her first book, EDITH, was selected by Dorianne Laux as the winner of the 2016 BOAAT Book Prize and will be published by BOAAT Press in Fall 2017. She currently resides in the San Francisco Bay Area. 


Love in the Time of Cards Against Humanity



Edith once again I found myself

Accidentally rocking out

To the Christian radio station while alone

In my car. Meanwhile, on NPR,


The world was running out

Of water. The world was at war.

When I’m in love I find myself

Having more stake in the world, suddenly


Terrified of: war drafts, drunk drivers,

Dormant volcanoes, the inevitable

Heat death of the universe, microbes

In the water supply, the precarious nature


Of icebergs, biblical plagues, pretty much

Anything they talk about on the news.

On the news they talk about

An Instagram picture of a young boy


Holding up the severed head

Of a soldier. His father stands next to him,

Holding another head. In another place,

Fifteen people are killed as they sleep


On the floor of a school. Little kids

Asleep on the linoleum, then

Not. Little kids with other people’s blood

On their tee-shirts. Little kids who dream


About bombs. When I wake up

Before him I put my head on his chest

And listen to make sure his heart

Is still sloshing around in there.


I didn’t ask to have this much

To lose, Edith, I didn’t! I find solace

In the idea that one day we’ll find

Another planet to start over


Fucking up. I want to raise my children

There, each in their own indestructible

Silver pod. I can’t imagine how many disposable

Coffee cups I’ve gone through


In this life, how many pounds of cherries

I’ve let rot in the fridge. All day today

I lay on the sofa, drinking La Croix

In the air-conditioning, getting bummed out


About a pair of earrings I can’t afford

On eBay. This morning I woke myself up

Crying. In my dream

My iPhone had a cracked screen.

I Had This Dream About Kayaks and You Were in It!



Sometimes grief is chief.

Sometimes there are chiggers

In the tall grass out where you’re walking

The dog in your nightgown. Sometimes nothing


Comes up Meg for days on end.

Some nights you can’t even see

The moon, or it is so smudged out

By ghosts you can’t tell where it even really begins.


When I first found out that most of the stars

We see are already dead, I took it

Very personally. I have been told

I am the kind of person who takes


Things personally. Sometimes the dog gets out

At night and she is black and she runs

Around in the street with the tires

Of cars just missing her and I feel like my heart


Has been divided in two and half of it

Is inside her and I am angry

That she is being so reckless with it.

But she’ll never really understand


What it means to anticipate a loss. She just wants

Some good sniffs and doesn’t know why

I am always trying to keep her

From what she wants most. I’ve been


Having those kinds of anxiety nightmares

Where he and I are trying to get to the airport

But we have to take a kayak there and end up

In a very high-traffic kayak area. Our kayak


Bangs against the others, filthy water

Sloshes up into my lap. My traveling outfit

Is, of course, ruined. The couple next door

Trying to fuck their headboard through my bedroom


Wall at dawn this morning hadn’t any idea

That I recently broke up with someone.

They just thought they were being

The regular kind of inconsiderate.


Sometimes in the morning

You haven’t even opened your second eye

Yet and already you’re texting your ex-boyfriend

To tell him about the dream you had,


About kayaks. Sometimes in your sleep

You’ll get a bloody nose and swallow

All the blood, wake up once your stomach

Gets full, to throw it up. Last night


At Wal-Mart, the couple in front of me

In line was buying a single Slim Jim,

To share. I missed him so much

In that moment it felt like I was full of collapsing


Stars. A deep round ache accompanied by

Regular sharp stabs. Like being in a bathtub

Full of crushed ice with little bits of glass

Mixed in. I could feel it


In my teeth. I could feel all the blood

Moving through me with great

Effort, like it was full of seeds.

Edith, the worst thing about endings


Isn’t the ending itself,

But the beginning again. How tiring

It is to retell and retell

That story about the scar on the palm


Of your hand. How you climbed a fence

To skinny dip in a swimming pool

At night, when you were twenty-two.

How you made it into the pool


Just fine, and felt so much joy

Splashing around in the water. How

Climbing the fence a second time, to get out:

That’s when everything went wrong.