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- Category: Book Buzz
When She Was Bad by Gabrielle Brant Freeman
"Gabrielle Freeman’s When She Was Bad is about passion: sex, love, loss, life at its most elemental. One poem challenges, “Did you bare your neck or your teeth?” These poems bare neck and teeth. They are fierce and tender, and each poem so full of energy that the page can barely contain it."
—Suzanne Cleary, author of Beauty Mark
"The poems of Gabrielle Freeman’s When She Was Bad are by turns amorous, witty, fierce, ironic and erudite, but they are always sensual and often erotic. As the title suggests, Freeman explores the promises and surprises of the human heart, and her deft free verse addresses temptations, rewards and disappointments. Her bold inquiries sharpen both her eye and her tongue, but her first collection is far from single-minded, as she makes room for owls, spider wort, Bela Lugosi, Stephen King, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and Renoir. When She Was Bad is entertaining and enlightening, and with its publication Gabrielle Freeman steps onto the stage in full voice, singing true."
—R.T. Smith, editor of Shenandoah and author of In the Night Orchard: New and Selected Poems
"Gabrielle Freeman's poetry is fecund, sensuous, and refreshing. I admire the strangeness in these poems—not a strangeness of obliquity or constructed befuddlement, but an unpredictability that ultimately clarifies, inducing empathy. In her poems I can hear "on the morning road . . . the cello's throat" as it "opens into a blur of birds and fog." Her poems transcend delicate transcription of events; instead, they entice and enrich, offer room for a reader's imagination to blossom with interpretation. These are pieces by a soul who understands the importance of the world behind the world, a place to which few gain access."
—William Wright, series editor of The Southern Poetry Anthology and author of Tree Heresies
"Lust. Love. Betrayal and loyalty. Temptation and hilarity. Gabrielle Freeman dissects her speakers’ hearts, tenderly, with supreme attention to what it is to be human, female, and fierce. Gabrielle Freeman’s poems are bad—by which I mean bad-ass bold. Michael Jackson bad. Freeman’s bad and you know it. That’s why you read her. When She Was Bad is a smart, compassionate, tightly crafted and explosive debut."
—Denise Duhamel, author of SCALD
Gabrielle Brant Freeman's poetry has been published in many journals, including Barrelhouse, Hobart, Melancholy Hyperbole, Rappahannock Review, Shenandoah, storySouth, and Waxwing. She was nominated twice for the Best of the Net, and was a 2014 finalist. Freeman won the 2015 Randall Jarrell Poetry Competition, and she received a Regional Artist Grant in 2015 from the North Carolina Arts Council. Freeman earned her MFA through Converse College. When She Was Bad is her first book of poetry.