It is our everyday explorations—the small explosions within life, family, and “ordinary” survival—that make up Gregory Fraser’s fourth collection of poetry, Little Armageddon. Fraser writes at eye level, detailing the experiences of fatherhood, love, and the quiet of daily life, poised at the brink of abrupt upheaval.
These poems are an exercise in precision and reflection. Free verse and prose show readers the life within the landscape. In “My Daughter and the Lizard,” the speaker reflects on grace, meditating on the reptile his child is inspecting: “I scissor-jab three holes through the lid / of a Mason jar and tell her to be gentle, / ‘It’s a living thing,’ I say, ‘not a toy.’”
We are how we live. These poems balance imagination and truth telling with rich verse that brings the reader’s ear closer to the quiet—and how intense it truly is.
“Gregory Fraser’s canny fourth collection of poems sets the human comedy to a soulful American soundtrack, a medley of pensive reveries and disarming reckonings. When it comes to distilling the maladies of the quotidian into tonic lyric feeling, his ear is sure and his aim is true. At every turn in this bittersweet chronicle of the middle of life’s journey, he shows he’s a natural at playing changes on ‘what to make of the simple, the small,’ be it calling back ‘the rhythmic slap of summer / in a jump rope on cement’ or calling up the ghosts of immigrant ancestors who ‘lighted on a hyphen.’ In its largeness of spirit and the fullness of its gifts, Little Armageddon is a slim volume that leaves a big footprint.” —David Barber, author of Secret History: Poems (Northwestern University, 2019)