In·ter·punct shares book reviews, art news, lit theory and daily musings from the intimate lives of writers. It seeks to highlight, in an edgy and sprightly fashion, the poetic moments that punctuate our lives.
The holidays are a great time to buy a loved one a beautiful book of poetry. One of the most powerful poetry books of 2017 was Depression & Other Magic Tricks by up-and-comer Sabrina Benaim. Benaim shows that new voices offer some of the freshest perspectives, especially in regards to emotional disorders. In Depression & Other Magic Tricks, she gives us breathtaking prose and striking images through her words and gives us a look into her life—a life ridden with depression. This book was moving, heart-wrenching, and incredibly raw. It was a book where the poems spill out of the pages, and the author has everything pouring out of open words. It was about the excitement you feel on a first date (and the way we tend to ramble when we get excited), everyday struggles, the raw truth of pain, and living with depression.
The poems in Sabrina Benaim’s Depression & Other Magic Tricks are gorgeous and poignant; they will leave you breathless, your heart racing deeply, and your lips mouthing “wow.” You will find yourself thinking about your own life and relate to the words piling into your head. You will be warmed by the fact that you find a friend in this book—one you can turn to time and time again—especially if you are also someone who struggles with an emotional disorder, particularly depression. It is also a helpful book to those who want to better understand depression and what it is like for those who live with it every day.
I loved Benaim’s use of prose and short sentences that make you take breaths between thoughts, and the way she portrayed such daunting subjects with such simplicity and beauty. The gravity of her words fall within sentences and well-placed line breaks, while images are created in the way the words are physically placed. I loved how unique each page looked with its different poetry forms—it looked like art in and of itself. The unique way this book was written spreads beyond the beauty in the words alone. Pay attention to the punctuation, the capitalization, the line breaks, and the way the words are placed; you will find visual art hidden beneath gorgeous words and images within your mind.
Some of the most moving pieces were only a few lines long, but they moved with such grace and tenderness that they packed an even more powerful punch. The following poem in the book was a personal favorite of mine; it encapsulated the freshness of Benaim’s perspective and the creative way in which she expressed what it is like to live with depression:
“the slow now”
this morning said
do not press snooze
you pressed snooze
while brushing your teeth,
your reflection in the mirror also said:
to every cotton swab in the blue box
& blue seashell on the shower curtain
you filled your kettle with cold water,
set it on the hot stovetop, to boil
this morning said,
on your bed
watching YouTube videos
of Amy Winehouse
singing back to black
for thirty-six minutes
you rummaged through a drawer
found a bra
put it on
you put on black tights
tried on four dresses
finally decided on the black & white flowers one
nineteen minutes later
you put on a sweater
& you sat
on your bed
for five minutes more
you say hello to afternoon.
if you have eaten anything,
if you plan on leaving the house today.
you pick up the phone
i am starting the pills again
i have a doctor’s appointment
first thing in the morning
your mother responds,
didn’t I tell you to do that two weeks ago? (Benaim, pp. 4-5)
If you are looking for a phenomenal gift to place under your friend or family member’s Christmas tree or just want something beautiful for yourself, Sabrina Benaim’s Depression & Other Magic Tricks is a rich book of depth and demons that will give any reader a new perspective on life and struggles with depression. The best part of this gift is that you will never get tired of re-reading its pages. Each time you flip through it, even for just a poem or two, you will feel deep cuts of emotion strike you to your core and goosebumps prick up your skin. Benaim gives us such passion in so few words, showing that this rising star is far from slowing down.
In·ter·punct shares interviews, expositions, poems and daily musings from the intimate lives of writers. Like the interpunct, which is a middot used to separate syllables, this blog seeks to highlight, in an edgy and sprightly fashion, the poetic moments that punctuate our lives.