Annie Freud’s The Mirabelles – Reviewed by Pam Johnson
Annie Freud’s voice is so strong on the page you can almost hear it. These poems are frank, candid. In “Pheasant,” she relishes the preparation of road-kill: ‘I…pull out her guts,/her lungs, her heart and pearly eggs…/ Daughter of painters Lucien Freud and Kitty Garman, granddaughter of Bernard Epstein, her rendering of the visual is as bold as the voice.
We see glimpses of a bohemian world where, ‘A young poet visits an older poet/who has enjoyed fame and success;’ where Sting’s wife’s jam seems to have soothed an unnamed artist who is ‘… painting a restaurateur.’
Freud’s most audacious move is to appropriate the words of others. Much of the book consists of ‘found’ poems. Selecting passages from the articles and letters of others, she lineates their words. In “Mark Almond Poem” each verse is a direct quote by the singer lifted from an article published in The Guardian in 2007. What has been achieved? The essence of Almond’s experience of his motorbike accident is distilled, ‘released’ from the journalism. Does he mind? We don’t know.
Freud appropriates an article on billiards from The New York Times, 1896. Written ‘for Dave,’ the sensuality assumes layers: ‘He showed how the balls may be nursed by the expert;’ a player assembles the balls on the table where he, ‘petted, coaxed, cajoled, nursed and fondled them…’ There is talk of, ‘cushion-play.’
“Naked Child Laughing,” claims an extract from a critique of Lucien Freud’s painting of the poet as a child. It’s an interesting double-take, artist-on-artist, and a glimpse into their relationship: ‘nothing is lost in shadow…/the excitement of deep engagement./…the inexplicable human gorgeousness.’
The final section creates verse using the text of letters from the poet’s mother. Reading this collection, at times, feels voyeuristic.