Friendly Fire , Katrina Roberts’ cycle of fifty-two sonnets, proves the durability and flexibility of the lyric today. A taut narrative scaffolding supports Roberts’ brief, searing meditations on family, farm labor, friendship, illness, parenting. Colloquial language lends verve. Literal images evoke the texture of farm life. Roberts explores abstraction (“Forgiveness”) with apt metaphor: “I shelter the grudge, build / a rustic cabin for it in my chest, pound rusty nails / in to anchor a porch where I sit glaring.” At the close of “Malignant,” the narrator asks a timeless question: “what lies in wait for us?” Read Friendly Fire for Roberts’ sensual and wise rendering of the here and now. —Robin Becker, 2007 Judge, the Idaho Prize for Poetry
FRIENDLY FIRE—that accidental agent of injury or death to one’s own forces—lends its name to Katrina Roberts’s third collection, capturing the disquieting mix of innocence and violence central to the work’s exploration. Elemental and protean, fire appears throughout these lyrical glimpses, always a syzygial force;that which terrifies (or destroys)may be that which is necessary. These poems consider how both nurture and nature inform violent behaviors; how we must choose to see beauty in decay; how prayer has power even if we don’t know whom we’re addressing. Informed by the possibilities of the “American” sonnet, this sequence confronts inherent dangers in even the best-intended human gestures, and explores how we sustain faith in the face of such damage. Searching for sense in an often shattered world, limning a seam between personal and political,mining contradictions we must live within when so many people are at war, when hunger, disease and poverty are rampant, these poems forge a place where intentions and consequences are called into question;where silence is indeed profound and must be honored with apology, forgiveness and praise; and where—when facing mortality—one might sing in celebration.