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Friday, October 19, 2012

Review of Drive By, Shards & Poems by John Bennett

John Bennett’s persona reels through this tormented book of poems and prose pieces with an anarchist’s witty spontaneity and an almost saintly intensity. The outside world seems to draw Bennett in to its pathetic havoc and uncaring cruelty leaving him questioning, tearless, and above all observant to a fault. He would agree with Thomas Hobbes’ sentiment that the life of man {is} solitary, poor, brutish, and short.

At first I hated it that Bennett calls his prose pieces shards. The word “shards” connotes for me the artsy-fartsy oh-so-precious world of the elite, the special people. But clearly Bennett’s world and writing angles away from anything that even resembles the elite as I understand them. His shards are not pieces of ancient pottery decked out on a fancy well-appointed museum shelf. They are instead broken smudged pieces of a mirror, scattered over the bloody floor of a crime scene. Some of the jagged slivers rage up at you. Others blind you with awe. Still others combine earthy grittiness with inexplicable logic.

If Bennett does seek connections with a type of illuminati, he has chosen well.  For Bennett it is the sense of wonder which separates a scattered band of initiates from the rest of humanity. In this collection’s very first poem, an oddly surreal piece, entitled A Rare Moment in Warfare Bennett shows the power of wonder. The poem begins this way,

The chieftain came

riding out of

the trees &

across the


field in Germania,

bareback on a



During this moment of awe and wonder the appreciative Roman general ordered his archers to hold their fire. It reminds me of the Christmas day truce during the World War I when soldiers came out of their murderous trenches and briefly shared their food and company.  For more of my review of Drive By go here:  http://dougholder.blogspot.com/2012/10/drive-by-shards-poems-by-john-bennett.html

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