John Freeman’s first poetry collection charts the impact of place on human experience. In Beirut, Rio de Janeiro, Paris, Rome, and the foothills of a childhood hometown, Freeman navigates legacies of ruin and construction, illness and memory. Warm, mournful, and distinctly urban, Maps offers a compassionate perspective from the experience of one American embroiled in empire.
“John [Freeman] delights in and is thoroughly devoted to writing and to books. He is my kind of person.” ―Louise Erdrich
“At the intersection of art and heart, this magnificent sheaf of voyages leads us through the difficult and picturesque atlas of a life… This is an enduring and rapturous account of a life’s journey to plumb the depths of the known in order to reveal the hidden and unknown.” —D.A. Powell
“What is mapped here, in John Freeman’s exquisite and robust poetry debut, are the territories of loss, pain, violence, and reckoning that make up a life. And also those of love, remembrance, and unabashed passion that make that same life livable. Maps is a consolation and a delight.” —Tracy K. Smith
“John Freeman’s astonishing book of poems shows us first an America that could once and sometimes still be experienced in a vacuum, removed from the brutal struggles that are the daily life of much of the world. Then he takes us into that world, where human tenderness is martyred and buried, day after day. In Freeman’s hands the most minimal scenes, the smallest gestures, record our persistence and fragility. Disconsolate, loving, burdened by memory, undeceived but somehow still doggedly hopeful, these poems help us to see a world we’re just beginning to map.” —Mark Doty
“Maps is an intimate cartography departing from mourning. John Freeman—literary critic, editor, writer, and poet—starts from his mother’s illness and death and goes on a personal route, both real and imaginary.” —Público