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Freeman’s "Fight Songs" gives poetic voice to the unseen among us

Eyewear Publishing, 2017

Stateside's conversation with poet Cal Freeman.

Poet Cal Freeman
Credit Shadia Amen
Poet Cal Freeman

Cal Freeman’s newest collection of poems, Fight Songs, has nothing to do with ‘The Victors’ or ‘Victory for MSU.’ Instead, his poems are about unsung, little-noticed lives, about underdogs, about animals, plants, and nature.

Freeman grew up in Detroit. He won the Devine Poetry Fellowship and has been nominated for multiple Pushcart Prizes in both creative nonfiction and poetry. He joined Stateside to talk about his new collection of poems.

Listen to the full conversation above, or read a poem from Fight Songs below.



A Jeep Wrangler looms

above the pitted lot

of the closed-down Chrysler plant.


Toledo’s emptiness is the one misnomer

that can bring the game birds back

to patchwork green spaces


sutured over post-industrial scars.

Toledo has towering blue spans

that cross the river


and a searing wind through trees

where the Maumee Bay

writhes in its torrent. Toledo


has gulls that cry like puppies

over produce tumbling

from the trucks at weekend market.


Toledo has a listless energy

that staggers through birdsong and hypodermic

needles in botanical gardens;


jackals, bamboo shoots

in the lairs of pandas at the zoo.

Storm doors with rusted handles


stuffed with health insurance offers,

handbills for pizza, epiphanic notes

blown out beneath a greening sky.(Subscribe to the Stateside podcast oniTunes,Google Play, or with thisRSS link)

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