#BookReview obliterate the following items from the beginning of time #poetry

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#BookReview obliterate the following items from the beginning of time #poetry

obliterate the following items from the beginning of time by Thais Benoit

Published by NAP magazine, July 2013

More and more the way we encounter “books” surprises me. Thais Benoit’s bitty work (a 35-page chapbook) is a downloadable PDF as opposed to a thing with pages, even pages stapled together and handi-crafted with love. I approach such small works in a PDF more like a Happy Meal representation of the author’s writing than a full meal that showcases the writer’s palate.

Benoit is able to create interesting juxtapositions in a small spaces. She writes:

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The speaker runs from someone lecherous, but as she does, she doesn’t lose the youthful exuberance that compels us to bap flowers as we pass them (especially those hard-to-resist fluffy dandelions). Her speaker is two persons at once.

Obliterate cover.jpg

Beniot also juxtaposes strength with weakness by stringing together two famous women, one who saves everyone, the other who must be saved: “I’m a handful, forcefully felt / A pint sized Wonder Woman princess peach.” Blurring the differences between Wonder Woman and Princess Peach opens the door for Benoit to say her speaker is complicated and contradictory at times by cleverly conjuring these women of pop culture.

Complex speakers fill the other poems, too. One declares, “I like puzzle people” and later says, “I am a puzzle person.” The speaker defends herself, explains the speed and which her mind races, and still is open to understand another person intimately. She explains who she is: “i prefer to take my time; i like good accidents / and the kind of sunsets caused by pollution.” Benoit adds an unromantic flavor to the sunset by giving it a good dose of reality: the skies are filled with pollution, so this is how we experience sunsets today.

Some of the poems read more like lists without meaningful connections to the reader, like in the poem “things i’ve done as a child.” There is something familiar there, though; Benoit works in the alt-lit genre, typically a boys’ club of lowercase letters; nonsense exclamations about the beauty, and, conversely, meaninglessness of life; and pop culture references (Kanye, dubstep, hashtags). But she’s not so flighty—there is something there that resonates with me in some of Benoit’s stanzas, as opposed to leading me to think “brah, ur funny #LOL” like I usually do when I read alt-lit poems. Here’s an example of a stanza that represents youthfulness pile-driving into adulthood, a flighty speaker who understands consequences:

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This review was originally published at The Next Best Book Club. I received a copy of the obliterate the following from the beginning of time from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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About Grab the Lapels

I'm a graduate of the MFA fiction writing program at the University of Notre Dame. I also have a MA and BS from Central Michigan University. I teach composition, creative writing, and literature, which has inspired me to follow along with trends in teaching, publishing, and reviewing.

2 responses »

  1. The book only exists as a downloadable PDF? Interesting.
    I suppose it makes sense for a slim work of poetry. The ones I’ve read recently are such tiny little books, that I sometimes wonder if it’s worth adding them to my home library. They’re so slim you can’t even seem them when they’re in the middle of a dozen other books! But I have an irrational obsession with owning and collecting books.
    Thanks for the PDF link. I’ll read a few of the poems tomorrow during my lunch break.

    Liked by 1 person

    • There are a number of funny little publishers out there who have chapbooks for free. You can download them on your phone and read them with Google Play. Then again, there are a number of presses out there that have chapbooks that cost just as much as a regular book. I tend to avoid those.

      Like

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