SWIMMING IN A
I like the way this book begins with the title poem, a real grabber, that sets up everything to follow. Terrific poem! Bennett gives us an arresting meditative description of a drowning mouse in a watering can and moves in subsequent poems to literal and metaphorical death sentences of various kinds. These poems are moving and charged with life even though the speakers-mothers, wives, husbands, sons, daughters, students, and lovers-deal with the painful loneliness of separation or irretrievable loss. I read the volume twice with pleasure, admiration, and the occasional twitch of envy. Especially impressive are his blank verse sonnets, the way he uses the dramatic monologue to great effect, and the way poems vary theme and tightly reinforce each other. Not a loser among them.
Peter Makuck, founder and former editor of Tar River Poetry
Bruce Bennett's new book of poems, Swimming in a Watering Can, manages to break and swell the reader's heart simultaneously; masterful images and stunning word play create unforgettable scenes such as in these lines from the title poem which opens the volume: "paddling in the water, / helpless and desperate, nothing to catch hold of, / feeling your strength fail, little by little by little, / paddling and paddling, sinking, all alone." The poem is ostensibly about a mouse, but the slowing rhythm of those lines describing with agonizing precision the final moments of a fellow creature's existence shock us into identifying with every aspect in the poem. And this continues throughout the collection which seems in some ways a valediction and celebration of people and places beloved and mourned. There are teachers who provide comfort amid the lessons, "He was like no one else, a true eccentric," and teachers who frighten, "He said, 'They're going to crack you like an egg.'" Everywhere the poet looks, nature seems to be emphasizing the transitory, but in the sure hands of this poet, transcendence occurs, and we are all illumined.
Deirdre Neilen, Editor, The Healing Muse
From the book:
The deer was in the road, walking across.
We swerved, but not enough. We heard the thump,
stopped, and backed up. She lay there, barely breathing;
blood in a pool around her head. We stood,
shaken, then pulled her to the side. The snow
swirled. There was nothing we could do. We drove
home; called the sheriff; filed the report.
Lucky for us, it only broke a headlight.
Lucky for us, but sad. Yes, it was sad.
Poor thing. So dumb. So unaware. Just space
from one woods to another. Just the crossing
she'd made a thousand times. I stroked her side.
So beautiful. Pathetic. Something real
had happened. No one spoke the whole way home.
Bruce Bennett is the author of nine books of poems and more than twenty-five poetry chapbooks, including eight published by FootHills. Navigating The Distances (Orchises Press), his New and Selected Poems, was chosen by Booklist as "One Of The Top Ten Poetry Books Of 1999." In 2013 he was awarded a Pushcart Prize. He has taught English and Creative Writing at Wells College since 1973.
SWIMMING IN A WATERING CAN
is a 32 page hand-sewn chapbook - $10.00.
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