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The Sobbing School (National Poetry Series) Paperback – September 27, 2016
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Advance Praise for The Sobbing School
“In his scintillating debut, Bennett raises a crucial question about the writing of African-American experience: how can one convey the enormity of black suffering without reducing black life and expression to elegy? . . . At its heart, Bennett’s sharp collection is an ode to family, friendship and culture that neither pulls punches nor withholds sentiment.” – Publishers Weekly
“Bennett is one of the most impressive voices in poetry today. . .he is also quietly building a reputation as one the brightest intellectual and political thinkers of a new generation.”
– Jesse McCarthy, Dissent Magazine
“'Who can be alive today/and not study grief,’ Joshua Bennett asks in this arresting debut. Yet these poems are no study in grief. Abounding in tenderness and rich with character, these are no quaint lyrics. They leap into our lives, engaging, crackling with wit and intelligence. It’s one of Bennett’s unique gifts—a virtuosic kind of code switching—to deliver a civil tone of I’d rather you didn’t, while we know what he means is, more provocatively, I wish you would.”
– Gregory Pardlo
"At a moment in American culture punctuated to a heartbreaking degree by acts of hatred, violence and disregard, I can think of nothing we need to ponder and to sing of more than our shared grief and our capacity not just for empathy but genuine love. Poetry is critical to such an endeavor—and Joshua Bennett’s astounding, dolorous, rejoicing voice is indispensable."
– Tracy K. Smith
"At the heart of Joshua Bennett’s debut collection lies grief, but his poems also pay tribute to the human will to endure. There are glimpses here of James Baldwin and Zora Neale Hurston where Bennett’s syntactical dexterity and feeling for language meet the rhythm and flow of dangerous music. His poems of identity are also poems of imagery and invention, and they testify to poetry’s endless mutability through story and song, lament and praise. The Sobbing School is an essential book for our times."
About the Author
Joshua Bennett received his PhD in English from Princeton University. He is currently a member of the Society of Fellows at Harvard Univeristy, and has received fellowships from the Callaloo Creative Writing Workshop, the Hurston/Wright Foundation, and the Ford Foundation. His poems have been published or are forthcoming in Beloit Poetry Journal, Callaloo, the Kenyon Review, and New England Review. Bennett tours nationally and internationally as a performance poet and has recited his original work at the Sundance Film Festival, the NAACP Image Awards, and President Obama’s Evening of Poetry and Music at the White House. He lives in Yonkers, New York.
Top customer reviews
Within the work itself, Bennett is never conventional and stable for too long as he often takes it upon himself to play with form and structure. The margins are fully explored to function and serve the feelings and emotions that he is attempting to convey. In addition to this observation, some of the literary devices present in the collection that provide impact are assonance, alliteration, as well as allusion. Bennett displays through myriad styles that it is hard to truly pin down his writing delivery which really brings the poems to life as they take a form of their own.
One thing that stands out and is blatantly obvious when reading this collection is that Bennett’s poems can more times than not feel inaccessible. The writer’s big vocabulary and profound grasp of the English language give the poems a cryptic aura that may be hard for the average joe to decipher if they are uncertain of how each word fits into the context of his work. However, this should not be seen as a gripe of the author and his ever shifting thoughts of ideas and motives, but more so of us as people for not having the adequate understanding due to the inefficiencies that exist within the American education system.
In all honesty, The Sobbing School is truly a masterpiece with tremendous shelf life as each poem lives within its own galaxy and orbit. For one to fully experience the work, they must allow themselves to read slowly and repetitively in hopes that they will fully come to terms with the ideas that exist within Bennett’s mind. In simplest terms, patience is a virtue that will reward the reader as they allow themselves to be enveloped by the work and more specifically, the beautiful words that are carefully constructed and positioned to provide everlasting effect.