“Whether in his translations of Josué Guébo or in his own original poems, Todd Fredson tirelessly commits his language to the difficult, critical work of examining the notion of belonging and home-losing. As though effortfully straining language through the page, Fredson’s poems are lyric quests that examine what he calls ’the threshold between witness and participation’ and his own subject position as a white, U.S. American male in an Ivory Coast on the brink of civil war. These are poems of history rescaled: fatherhood, miscarriage, work, and grasses. These are poems of place and of distance, severance and repetition. Fredson’s lyrics astound with a sensuality and sparseness that conjure not only memory but the feeling of being possessed by remembering. Such poems remind us that the body is a palimpsest and the eye is tuned by image, by light, by experience. They problematize the idea that we are ever actually in just one place, and it is this very porousness that makes Century Worm read like an epic as much as a collection of individual pieces. This is a book of personal and national history, lament, and ferocious vulnerability.”
“Todd Fredson’s Century Worm is a journey through memory fields crisscrossed with roads where ‘history offers no instructions.’ Here the poet asks: ‘it isn’t the bird that is beautiful, is it, but the scale it gives to the field?’ These poems enact a deeper kind of witnessing, each line ‘an elegant lure,’ urgent and necessary.”
Todd Fredson is also the author of the poetry collection The Crucifix-Blocks. He is a translator of Francophone West African literature, including the poetry collections by Josué Guébo, Think of Lampedusa, and My country, tonight. Fredson was a 2015-16 Fulbright Scholar in the Ivory Coast, where he had also served in the Peace Corps from 2000-2002 as the country’s ethnic violence was transitioning to civil war. He lives in Phoenix Arizona.