Poet­ry

Sole­cism

Rose­bud Ben-Oni
  • Review
By – August 21, 2014

Rose­bud Ben-Oni’s writ­ing is often epi­gram­mat­ic and mem­o­rable. I wish that these epi­grams had been explored and illus­trat­ed more ful­ly as each one seems a lead-in to an impor­tant reflec­tion; but they are strewn in the midst of poems about oth­er sub­jects, most often, despair. Most of Ben-Oni’s poems are about loss or lack of con­trol, such as we mark time by los­ing it,”and told in an elli­tip­ti­cal style. But when she is straight-for­ward and spe­cif­ic, the lev­el of empa­thy from the read­er ris­es. A Poem for My Niece on No Par­tic­u­lar Day” is an exam­ple of one such poem: the unex­pressed love between this aunt and her niece is clear through her por­tray­al of her niece, detail­ing her flaws and past his­to­ry along with her hoped-for future. Her wish that she be more April than Spring, becom­ing a crown of light, as you sing the day — into night” is a poignant wish with which all read­ers who have chil­dren, nephews, nieces, and grand­chil­dren will identify. 

Ben-Oni’s best poems reveal her sense of humor, espe­cial­ly in the lat­ter half of the book. Her descrip­tion of inef­fec­tive win­dow blinds is one exam­ple: The blinds have nev­er been gentle/​with the dawn, the harsh glare stab­bing through like an evan­ge­list jump­ing up and down to move millions.” 

The com­par­i­son to an Evan­ge­list is both orig­i­nal and fan­tas­tic. And in (“don’t call it return­ing”) her expe­ri­ence at JFK Air­port is cap­tured beau­ti­ful­ly and iden­ti­fi­ably in her open­ing stan­za: “…some­times all sound/​seems ram­ble in bram­ble/­jet-fueled. Alight­ing from planes with the rum­bling of planes and air­port nois­es in deaf­ened ears comes to mind.” 

The poems in Sole­cism are root­ed in this writer’s past and cur­rent expe­ri­ences and pro­vide vivid pic­tures in care­ful­ly cho­sen images. Worth brows­ing through.

Relat­ed content:

Eleanor Ehrenkranz received her Ph.D. from NYU and has taught at Stern Col­lege, NYU, Mer­cy Col­lege, and at Pace Uni­ver­si­ty. She has lec­tured wide­ly on Jew­ish lit­er­a­ture and recent­ly pub­lished anthol­o­gy of Jew­ish poet­ry, Explain­ing Life: The Wis­dom of Mod­ern Jew­ish Poet­ry, 1960 – 2010.

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