Linked from its earliest days with legal proceedings and a modern psychology of conflicted love, the sonnet held together what wanted to fly apart. Petrarch miniaturized the standoff of forces in the oxymorons he used to characterize his divided emotions - sick health and freezing fire. Acknowledging this tradition of warring but tightly bound forces, Fried re-conceives the contemporary sonnet as an arena where fragments of self and samples of lingo play off against one another. And colouring these contests is a love intrigue that implicates the reader.
"Tense with dark wit and wild originality, Cohort, Philip Fried's eagerly-awaited new book, opens exciting territory where poems haven't dared to venture-the toxic side of the Information Age as it veers out of control. With a sharp eye for the mythic in the utterly contemporary, and a Swiftian deadpan, Fried creates a world of Babylonian flow-charts, ocean treadmills, Turing and Tiresias, the computer and the deposed god. It's a thrill to see the classic sonnet, with its volta and envoi, its echoes of lovers' quarrels, retuned to an age of chaos theory, protocols and strategies turned loose from all rational context, white noise, and endless war."
Philip Fried, a New York-based poet and little-magazine editor, has published three previous books of poetry: Mutual Trespasses (1988); Quantum Genesis (1997), which A.R. Ammons called "a major new testament"; and Big Men Speaking to Little Men (Salmon, 2006), which - said Marilyn Hacker - "represents much of what I admire in contemporary American poetry. . . ." Fried also collaborated with his wife, the fine-art photographer Lynn Saville, on a volume combining her nocturnal photographs with poetry from around the world. He is also the founder of The Manhattan Review, an international journal that for three decades has published the best in Anglophone poetry and translations.