Winner of the 2015 Moon City Poetry Prize
In Sad Math, Sarah Freligh takes us for a ride through an American girlhood, a retrospective landscape of parking in cars and illicit kisses in a Donut Delite. Here, time is measured not only in days and years but in physical distance, a past that is understandable only when viewed through a rearview mirror. Along the way, there are not only losses, but also the accumulation of experience and the insistence of possibility.
“Sad Math proves what many of us already know: there is no voice in poetry lie the voice of Sarah Freligh. Mired in the gritty splendor of the everyday, Freligh’s poems transport readers from Neil Armstrong’s moon walk to the halls of the Mercy Home for Unwed Mothers, and into a present that pays homage to the past while forging a distinct identity of its own. In “The Class of ’69: Page from a Yearbook,” Freligh begins, “The dead live on, black- / framed faces airbrushed / of acne, their eulogies / woven from a warp of truth, / the woof of exaggeration.” And yet it is these exact imperfections, and many others, that make Sad Math such a poignant testament to the human condition. Freligh discovers humor and beauty in the most unexpected places, and shares the gift of that view with her readers.”
—Mary Biddinger, author of A Sunny Place with Adequate Water
“This beautifully brutal debut of Sarah Freligh demonstrates that what’s left unspoken in a poem can both soothe and haunt as much as the dark rain of words down a page. These are magnificent poems that never apologize or buckle even though they carry such spark and bite, much like the “flick of thumb against greased wheel, first hit igniting tiny white lights strung nerve to bone.” I can’t wait for the rest of the world to encounter these profoundly tough and tender poems.”
—Aimee Nezhukumatathil, author of Lucky Fish
“Sarah Freligh’s Sad Math is nothing less than a marvelous arc that captures and explores what it means for all sentient beings to age and find the unreasonable sum of years. Her feminist view heightens the notion of sacred disfigurement as we realize that language can never properly add or assess our grief. These stark poems are exposures that fade and yellow until her profane Kodacolor print becomes a kind of Giotto canvas, though a contemporary one where the man on TV “points to a red stain spreading across / a map and tells me it’s best to stay / inside.”
—Mark Irwin, author of American Urn: Selected Poems
Distributed for Moon City Press.