Melissa Frederick has done the impossible: she’s written a love poem that men will immediately understand. The poem is titled “If I Could Move Like Jackie Chan,” and it’s just one of the exceptional pieces in her first collection of poetry, She (Finishing Line Press 2008). Of course, using Jackie Chan’s kung-fu prowess as a metaphor for love is only the tip of the iceberg as far as Frederick’s facility with language and imagery is concerned. Among other figures who show up in her poems are Sylvia Plath, Zelda Fitzgerald, and a thinly-veiled White House intern (or, more accurately, the ice cream in her freezer). Additionally, Frederick’s use of images culled from a vocabulary of pop-culture references, which runs the gamut from the content of the evening news to the stuff of science-fiction and fantasy, allows even the most resistant reader of poetry to feel at home in her world. Arguing, among other things, that space-stations should be run by single mothers on welfare and that the best ways to make an exit frequently involve healthy doses of red-faced embarrassment, She is the collection that T.S. Eliot would have written had he been a woman living in a world of cable TV and comic books.
For a free sample of Frederick’s work, check out her poem “Minor Distinctions,” which appears both in She and in the e-journal Diagram. Alternately, check out “Earth at Night,” which appears in Philadelphia Stories. Or, if you want the full Melissa Frederick experience, buy a copy of She directly from Finishing Line Press.