Cleveland State University Poetry Center

The Grief Performance by Emily Kendal Frey



The Grief Performance
by Emily Kendal Frey

List price: $15.95


The Volta Review

Lisa Wells at OmniVerse interviews Emily Kendal Frey

Emily Kendal Frey's The Grief Performance is a bestseller at SPD this month!

Emily Kendal Frey's poem "The End" is up at Looking Back at Orpheus

The Rumpus Review

iO Poetry Review

Gently Read Literature, September 2011

Sink Review

Lily Brown's Rust or Go Missing and Emily Kendal Frey's The Grief Performance make No Tell Motel's Bestest Poetry Books of 2011 list @

Emily Kendal Frey's The Grief Performance makes the list of the top 30 poetry books of 2011 from Coldfront Magazine @

Zoland Poetry Reviews 2012

The Rumpus review's THE GRIEF PERFORMANCE by Emily Kendal Frey


Emily Kendal Frey is the author of the chapbooks Airport (Blue Hour, 2009), Frances (Poor Claudia, 2010), and The New Planet (Mindmade Books, 2010), as well as three chapbook collaborations. She lives in Portland, Oregon.


The Storm

You are not a success.
You arrive at this suddenly,
ride it at zip-line speed
and slam into a tree. The tree
is a madrona and peeling. Your childhood
tree. Your not-success
crackles like lightening around you -
so bright and mighty that for a time
you feel blessed.
Stripped, you divide this branch
from that, walk the wet path home,
sit at your desk, eat your apple
of abandonment.

Emily Kendal Frey performs grief and dread as a graceful dance, the kind the tree you cut down in your backyard might do on your heart. This work is light, deft, dangerous. There are perfect poems here, such as “The End”, which enacts a simple, startling twist on the hoary injunction to “Walk towards the light.” See, everything you know is wrong. You really have to read this book.
-Rae Amrantrout

I've always found Kendal Frey's poems fascinating to the point of transfix—they make compelling reading: I've never started one I didn't finish, something I can say of very few other poets' work.  Her first full-length collection surely places her among the most brilliant of today's young poets. The Grief Performance commands and rewards the mind's richest attendance.
--Bill Knott

Emily Kendal Frey’s The Grief Performance is a book that condenses a journey of finding and re-finding loss into beautiful packages. The packages are the poems and they sit shiny and new on every page of this fabulous and generous book. I want to go into the world that these poems create, just so that I can be given these terrifying presents again and again. I know you will, too. See you there.
--Dorothea Lasky

Emily Kendal Frey's poems are made of words that can fake out death, trick abandonment into a bed, turn love into hands. They are rich with sound, brave with secrets, funny (tragic), and open (   ). She will twist up your heart into your next heart. Settle in. There are three dead people in her.
--Zachary Schomburg

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Ordering Information: For a full list of titles, please visit Books are available through SPD (Small Press Distribution) at,, and as well as many corporate and independent bookstores. For media review copies and printed catalogs, contact Rita Grabowski at 888-278-6473, or 216-687-3986.