A wide-ranging collection of poems about love, extending from the personal to the spiritual and from the romantic to the platonic.
Benczik’s debut collection takes a broad look at love, beginning with wooing and flirtation and moving to romance, heartbreak, friendship, love for oneself and experiences with the divine. The characters in the romantic love poems are often left unnamed, creating the feeling of a universal experience to which readers can easily relate. Although Benczik writes about heartbreak and rejection, love in her poems is almost always a source of healing; the collection tells of new loves that “kissed the tears away” and the speaker’s quest for love in the wake of Hurricane Sandy and the 9/11 attacks. The longer narrative poems are tempered by shorter pieces that evoke a Dorothy Parker–esque sense of humor. In “Valentine’s Day,” she says simply, “A celebrated date / to osculate / your mate.” Her tongue-in-cheek wisecracks are evident throughout but so are a sense of genuine hopefulness and a desire to uplift and enlighten the reader. The poems frequently break into the second person with words of wisdom and comfort. “I want to give you this gift in case you were missing it like I was,” the narrator says after describing a long struggle to gain attention from others. “So now, let’s tell everybody the secret / You have God’s Full Attention, too.” Religion is a recurring theme, but as with the rest of the collection, the poems attempt to represent a broad range of experiences; Buddha appears in addition to Catholic saints, and an unspecified God makes multiple appearances. The poems often venture into rhyme but never adhere to a fixed form for long. Readers are left with the lingering sensation that this talented new author is not only exploring love, but her own poetic voice and range.
A sweet, philosophical collection of poems about love in all its forms.