Preorder: Playground by Joe Benevento
Book Title: Playground
Author: Joe Benevento
List Price: $16.00
Publication Date: March 19, 2019
About the Book
“Playground” picks up momentum from Benevento’s previous two books of poetry, his volume of “selected” poems, (Expecting Songbirds 1983-2015), and his chapbook of poems in his own invented form, After, by including poems with an even wider range of publication dates than in Expecting Songbirds, and the presence of eight new “After” poems among its twenty-six lyrics. Benevento’s usual themes, the after effects of unrequited love, growing up in working class Queens, the redeeming potential in family, all make their appearance here, though with a bit more fully serious bent than in previous collections. This chapbook offers far more than recapitulation, though, with poems set in places as varied as a bagel shop in Columbus, a tapas bar in downtown Miami and a barrio in East Oakland, and subjects ranging from rehabbing a shoulder impingement, to participating in a track program for underprivileged youth to inventing a new kind of cake. Eight “After” poems, Benevento’s created form, which combines the uniformity of a twenty-six line poem in five, five line stanzas with a one line coda, with the metrical freedom more common to a prose poem, coexist with two sonnets, (one, “Loser,” a Spenserian sonnet on America’s obsession with winning) and a variety of free verse forms. Throughout these poems, Benevento affirms, as he has in published work for over thirty-five years now, his obsession with the paradox of poetry’s ability to offer hope to a world that seems often hopeless without it.