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The Auctioneer Bangs His Gavel (Wick Poetry Chapbook Series 3) Paperback – February 7, 2006
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About the Author
More About the Author
Ben is the author of Space Traveler (University of Tampa, 2014); Sweet Core Orchard (University of Tampa, 2009), winner of the Tampa Review Prize and a Lambda Literary Award; and Underwater Lengths in a Single Breath (Ashland Poetry Press, 2007), winner of the Snyder Prize. He has also published a chapbook, The Auctioneer Bangs his Gavel, with Kent State University Press (2006). His poems have appeared widely, including in the Pushcart Prize and Best American Poetry anthologies, Poetry Daily and Verse Daily, and the magazines Paris Review, Southwest Review, New England Review, Missouri Review, and The Sun. A recipient of individual artist grants from the states of Ohio and Connecticut, he serves as Assistant Poetry Editor and regular book reviewer for the Antioch Review.
Ben is also a distance runner and a vegetarian, and lives with a small, unnamed cat.
Top Customer Reviews
The Auctioneer Bangs His Gavel is one of those rare poetry books that seamlessly combines the everyday world and the world of the imagination. Mundane incidents (seeing beetles in a tennis court, curbing an ant infestation, petting a lover's dog) become catalysts for reflections on individual incidents and, more importantly, individuals: their connection to their god, their desires and to each other. The narrator of these poems is sympathetic (In "Terro Ant Killer," he watches the ants' insatiable gluttony only to recognize the same tendencies in himself.), romantic, erotic, idealistic, humorous (Who does not wish that, by the time the end of the world rolls around, he/she will have a lover polite enough to open his/her coffin before climbing into his own?). In short, he is richly complicated, in the best, most ambiguous sense, much like the mythological characters who are often the subjects of his meditations.
The narrator's complication allows for both striking metaphor (the equating of apples with eroticism) and images that are striking in their simplicity. (The narrator cannot comfort a lover who has been sexually abused, but he can comfort the lover's dog, who is also a victim of abuse.)These are poems about life as it is and--that classic preoccupation of myth--life as it could be.
The Wick chapbook series from Kent State University can be counted on to deliver good, solid poetry with every volume they release, and The Auctioneer Bangs His Gavel is no exception. Grossberg's poems are all over the subject map, from the sublime to the ridiculous, but he treats everything with the same air of wistful... well, perhaps respect is not the word. Examination, perhaps. The best example of this can be found in "Pig Auction", for it's possible no earthier subject could be found for Grossberg's rather ethereal language:
"From the sidelines where we stand, I suggest
we root for the pig; but you tell me that the pig,
its future in show, breeding, or pork--
most likely a combination-- needs no help
in rooting. I turn back to the pen, unconvinced,
because the odds seem stacked against it:
the reason? Auctioneer, voice tripping
like water down a rock face...."
I love it. How do you make an absurd situation more so? Ask Benjamin Grossberg. But puns and silliness are not by any means the complete story here; Grossberg's poetry runs the gamut.
"I'm fighting a god for you: Jesus, who scowls
at my petty ministrations from a cross,
or who looks down through a well in Heaven
and sees the fire of my cauldron burning
here on Earth. He will have you for church socials,
Easter egg hunts. He is furious when I spend
the night, and you don't get enough sleep to attend...."
While one can't blame Grossberg for this, the book's main problem is that it is too short; it's a chapbook, yes, and at thirty pages is actually pretty long for a Wick release. But I want more of Benjamin Grossberg. *** ½