Class Acts, Katerina Fretwell's seventh poetry (and art) collection, confronts the covert, historical caste/class system in the West. Section One details proto-feminist Mary Wollstonecraft's injection of female rights into the French Revolution's post-industrial, democratic discourse. Section Two contrasts the 2008 financial meltdown with Fretwell's 50s and 60s coerced debutante upbringing. Section Three, through Fretwell's social work in 60s/70s Halifax, illustrates implacable poverty. Poetic forms mirror themes: repetitive pantoums underscore female restraints in Wollstonecraft's time; prose poems vocalize middle class fear; sestinas reflect alcoholic, cloistered socialites; blank, staggered verse mimics desperate penury.
"Despite my bias toward the lyric, I found Fretwell addictive. There is a reliable continuity--reliable because her voice is genuine. The audible impact of the poems stays with me--I hear again the broken lines, the headlong plunges to stops that jolt like a series of admonitions. I am immensely impressed.This is surely one of the most authentic voices in contemporary Canadian poetry. There is no embellishment, no false humility, no search for a nicer way to say something--or a less nice way. Fretwell is not provocative for the sake of provocation, or funny for the sake of a cheap laugh. I am absolutely convinced." - Arc Poetry Magazine"Class Acts is a powerful critique of inequality past and present, turning through Katerina Vaughan Fretwell's dialogues with Mary Wollstonecraft, her own life experience and the poverty she encountered as a social worker in Halifax. Fretwell explores the many facets of her ambitious project passionately, in a series of highly accomplished poems." - Elizabeth Greene, poet and author of Moving"Katerina Vaughan Fretwell's dazzling poetic trilogy Class Acts unites the personal and political through its highly charged, metaphor-making power. In "Our Mirroring Centuries," nineteenth-century feminist Mary Wollstonecraft and the author ("Kate") become contemporaries in their longing for the restoration of the feminine body, mind, and spirit. "Class Actions" is a jazzy, blazing satire on the effects of corporate capitalism and its accompanying war machinery. The final section, "The Other Half," explores personal trauma and transformation, as well as the author's riveting experiences as a social worker This well-crafted volume, complemented by Fretwell's stunning watercolours, contains lyrics, prose poems, narrative poems, pantoums, shaped poems, dramatic monologues and more. Absorb these poems and be lifted through language to the place where anger tips over into wisdom, outrage at injustice into justice-making." - Susan McCaslin, poet and author of Demeter Goes Skydiving"[Katerina Fretwell's] poetry is rich fare, highly spiced and saucy. ...I'm much impressed with the versatility in both form and subject, and with the vigour and the wit and daring that always characterize [her] writing and are there in great abundance in Class Acts."- Allan Briesmaster, co-publisher of Quattro Books, poet and author of Against the Flight of Spring"[Class Acts] is charged and emotionally potent ... there is a natural intimacy created with Mary Wollstonecraft ... she becomes an important figure for our age! I will continue to savour the richness of the poems." - Clara Blackwood, poet and author of Arcana and Under the Dragon's Tail