The Sobbing School

Penguin. (Poets). Sept. 2016. 96p. ISBN 9780143111863. pap. $18; ebk. ISBN 9781101993101. POETRY
OrangeReviewStarThough he does well by debuting with a National Poetry Series winner, Bennett is already well known from the video of his performance for the Obamas at the White House Poetry Jam, which has claimed almost 400,000 views on YouTube. His opening poem, addressed to an escaped slave Henry Box Brown, has Brown performing in "sold out/ shows an ocean away from the place/ that made you possible." Throughout, Bennett clarifies what made him possible, moving from strict Baptist parents who "praise a vengeful god," to school bullies and best friends, to considerations of blackness couched in language both pop culture and high culture. Delivered without showiness, his imagery is indeed arresting; Richard Wright starts a fire "just to see cinder blacken/ his father's hands like the insides of a loganberry pie."
VERDICT Highly recommended.
Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.



We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing