About Poisons & Antidotes
In Poisons & Antidotes, life is inhabited by things that kill us and things that save us. But it’s never black and white, because poisons exist on a continuum, each increment representing some gradation of toxicity. Sometimes poison is clearly recognizable; other times it sits side by side with the innocuous and the borders are blurred. In this collection, poison is a metaphor for the degree of human connectedness to the world. The delirious voices in the poems are trapped in their own subjectivity, unable to see beyond their own strange stories. Just as poison becomes less virulent across the continuum, the poetic voices acquire a gradual awareness of themselves in relation to their world. By the end of the collection, it is as if human experience also exists on a kind of continuum. The expression of this vast range of experience—with all its subtleties, contradictions and ironies—is the antidote to human disconnectedness.
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Endorsed by Peggy L. Fox
Many of the poems in Andrea Fry’s new collection Poisons & Antidotes elicit a frisson as the poet, clear-eyed and with precise description, depicts plants, situations, or people, where the extremes of beauty and toxicity, allure and danger mingle and test us. As a practicing oncology nurse, she looks at life without sentimentality but with intense compassion, knowing that while there are no simple choices, it is the ambiguity of life that makes us fully human. Using her medical training as well as her extensive knowledge of the natural world, Fry with deft language creates pictures and tells stories that provoke our emotions and linger in the mind.
—Peggy L. Fox, President and Publisher Emerita, New Directions Publishing Corp.
Endorsed by Jeanne Marie Beaumont
Caution: this book may upend your expectations about what is fit subject matter for poetry. From mothballs to toxic machismo, Fry takes on the perils that lurk in the dark corners of the world and brings them into the light of frank consideration. These poems have their “arrows of truth” aimed straight at you. They will reshape your thoughts. They may deepen your insights. With larger doses, your imagination may experience an expansion. You may feel yourself craving more and more of the poetic artistry of Andrea L. Fry. You’ve been warned.
—Jeanne Marie Beaumont, author of Letters from Limbo, Burning of the Three Fires
Endorsed by Sarah White
Many of Andrea Fry’s poems have become my favorites, e.g., “The Renderer” and “The Secret.” I don’t know if these are the Poisons or the Antidotes of the collection. I just know they are poems—startling, fluent, and precise. They avoid overdosing us with sweetness, but they are deeply heartening. This poet seems to think (and I agree) that accurate observation is better for us than sweetness. So is humor. So is love.
—Sarah White, author of Iridescent Guest and Wars Don’t Happen Anymore
Endorsed by Daniel P. Sulmasy
The 16th century physician-philosopher Paracelsus famously wrote, “All things are poison. The dose alone makes a thing not a poison.” Advanced practice oncology nurse Andrea Fry is the poetic voice of Paracelsus in the 21st century. Poisons & Antidotes is not just a work of medical humanities. Fry uses her clinical skills to diagnose and treat the human condition. Her dosing is measured, exacting, and precise. At times witty, at times disturbing, these poems span the countryside and the city, exploring innocence and shame, delight and pain, the sublime and the mundane. Fry is an important new voice in American poetry and Poisons & Antidotes is required reading for anyone serious about poetry.
—Daniel P. Sulmasy, MD, PhD
Acting Director of the Kennedy Institute of Ethics, Georgetown University