Owed

Joshua Bennett. Penguin, $20 trade paper (96p) ISBN 978-0-14-313385-8
The powerful second book from Bennett (The Sobbing School) intertwines the author’s multifaceted professions as poet, performer, and professor through powerful, crisp poems that celebrate the complexity, joy, and heartbreak of the Black experience in America. “I’m pretty good/ at not loving/ anything enough/ to fear its ruin./ The cruel speed/ of our guaranteed/ obsolescence suits/ me,” he writes in “Plural.” Packed with sounds that echo the rhythms and narrative form of performance poetry, the collection is divided into three sections, each containing a series of Bennett’s version of the ode, which is reclaimed as “owed.” This idea is echoed in his four poems titled “Reparation.” Bubbling under his Whitmanesque breadth and awe at the world around him is the danger of growing up Black in America: “we grew tired trying not to die.” In “The Book of Mycah,” dense blocks of text flesh out the frenetic pace and energy of the Brooklyn neighborhood where Mycah Dudley, “Son of Flatbush & roti & dollar vans bolting down the avenue after six,” was killed by police. With their joy, pain, and fierce descriptions of Black life in America, Bennett’s poems are more necessary than ever. (Sept.)
Reviewed on : 09/16/2020
Release date: 09/01/2020
Genre: Poetry
Book - 978-0-525-50565-5
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