If I selected reading material by title and title alone, I admit I probably wouldn’t have chosen to read Girl on a Bridge by Suzanne Frischkorn. The phrase “girl on a bridge” carries a lot of overdramatic weight with it, baggage my friends and I would like to leave with our overdramatic high school selves – or at least, left with blocked-up Hollywood writers in need of a setting for their coming-of-age climax.
What’s ironic about the book’s title is that the poem sharing it is not in the least bit dramatic. In fact it uses the assumption of its cliché title to its advantage:
– And she tossed the red beret
into the Seine turning her back
on Paris forever. No she didn’t.
– And you’re a fool if you think
she would toss a perfectly good
beret ($23.95 on sale at Saks)
into a filthy river.
“No she didn’t” brings the Traveling Pants moment on the bridge to a screeching halt, and throws the poem into reverse, peeling away from the assumption and the cliché. The girl isn’t in Paris at all, just Greenwich, Connecticut, on her way to NYC (which, okay, might make the poem just a tad typical after all – but, in a surprising way).
The poems are primarily about girls and women – some on bridges, some not, but all existing in tumultuous lives, making decisions that would normally be frowned upon, if anyone thought to take notice. Although the characters and their stories occasionally approach exhaustion, Frischkorn's writing keeps them relevant, adopting specialized forms (like the abridged list in “Dick and Jane Get Divorced: an Index”) or, just writing well.
Which is the main thing: poor title or no, Girl on a Bridge is full of good poetry.