Review by Book Club member, Hannah Clark. Check out our recommendations for further reading on Octopus Books.
My first read of Emily Kendal Frey’s Sorrow Arrow was while lying in my mother’s housemate’s room in the woods of Northern Michigan with an enormous and terrifying Santa Claus mask staring me down from the wall. Somehow this felt very appropriate.
Sorrow Arrow is a collection of short, witty and straight shooting poems that build to form a larger cohesive whole. Themes – sandwiches, strawberries, vomit, mom bangs — repeat without ever becoming repetitive, instead opening up a bit of this weird world with each lyric reference. “People are intriguing and boundaried / Tiny ships in paintings / A sandwich without several items”
I ended up reading most of the poems aloud to my mother, who laughed audibly at points like “Don’t fuck with me Christian PTA moms / my sandwich is overly mayonnaised”
But while the collection is really funny at points, the title doesn’t lie – there is sorrow here. Frey writes about the mundane and absurd, and deals beautifully with the feelings of growing older, the missed freedom of childhood, the absurdity of family, the divide between the wild and the urban: “I used to be so there under a tree / I really felt I was interested in freedom”
Right now is the perfect time to read this book, as summer is waning and that strong feeling of early fall nostalgia sets in. Frey says what we’re all thinking right now: “Don’t die summer / There are wolves among us / We promise to make more art”