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“what sad people do when they are lonely looks a lot like me at the grocery store…” – Sabrina Benaim The Loneliest Sweet Potato

15 Aug


I was first drawn to Sabrina Benaim’s Depression and Other Magic Tricks by YouTube’s Button Poetry trending spoken word/poetry video called “The Loneliest Sweet Potato”.  You can borrow Depression and other Magic Tricks from BCCLS Libraries.

While I don’t think this is a book suited for everyone’s taste in prose, I do admit there is some raw humanity in a lot of the pages within this book. Whether it’s the title of a poem that impacts you more than the poem itself or if it’s one line that stands out within the mix of pages. This book is worth a glance, even if only to find that one line that’ll resonate deeply within you.

For example, the first page reads “what you see is what you get, / but that’s not all there is.”

This alone intrigued me because it is so true and yet can feel so false. To some people – in my opinion – what you see of course is not what you get as we are all just charading through everyday life trying to portray even if only a glimpse of who we are to those around us. Just as the iceberg analogy I’m sure everyone has heard, that you only see 10% of it and 90% of it is below the surface. This statement is very much relatable to many people. But I know there can be people that may not relate to this statement, and I think that is something so powerful and intriguing that it beguiles me. Whether or not the majority truly believe in their own belief – or if it’s just a reactional state dependent on past circumstances that have caused them to feel such a way – is still remarkable. This, I feel, is what draws attention to the question “what is one’s reality?” or “what is one’s truth?”

On a separate scale I also felt drawn to another poem on page 35 titled “gravity speaks” and it reads “if i am holding you without hands, / how am i supposed to let go?”

This statement/question feels so profound to me and though it makes absolute sense because the title is “gravity speaks” it can also go much deeper than just the literal.

Gravity is a force, a natural phenomenon, so by definition it makes sense for it to be something you can feel without feeling. But what about love? What about God? What about supernatural? Some can say that these are also phenomena that can be held without holding. It’s all about what one claims as their reality.

Sabrina Benaim’s Depression and other Magic Tricks is worth a comb through. If not for the sake of poetry, then for the sake of reality.

Written by:
Sherissa Hernandez
Adult Programming Assistant

Limitations: Robert Frost’s“Neither Out Far Nor In Deep”

6 Jun

How can a poem centered on metaphors call to the reality of one’s physical and emotional bar? “Neither Out Far Nor In Deep” by Robert Frost is – in my opinion – a very underrated poem. The poem was first published in the Yale Review in 1934 and was included in 1936 in Frost’s collection, A Further Range. The poem plays on the idea of the external vs. the internal by using the metaphor of juxtaposing the sea and land. Frost’s four-line quatrain uses metaphors to expand on the difference of one’s point of view. Indicating this through the narrator and the narration, the voice of the poem alludes on a metaphor of narrowmindedness. Delving deeper into what serves symbolically as the internal, the sea, that being which is out far and in deep. We see the meaning overlap in the third stanza of the poem, “but wherever the truth may be.” Even though the poem speaks of tangible things such as the sea and the land, the word used is “wherever” not “whatever” which indicates that this is about location. Location of what is the real question.

Continuing with this idea of location, the question being posed here is what kind of location this explores. Is it more metaphorical in the sense that it’s allowing the reader to connect with something deeper? Or is it purely taken at face value and is more of a straightforward view on how others may be perceived or even how a place may be perceived through someone else’s view? Both are as equally important observations and go hand in hand with each other.

First, the title of the poem plays on this idea that it’s neither one nor the other, “Neither Out Far Nor In Deep”, which can be interpreted to it either being both or none. Appearing to be about watchers of the sea, the theme has a very literal meaning, if taken at face value, that those who look out into the horizon at the sea do not have much expectations to see beyond what the natural eye can see. But based on the tone of the poem, the narrator challenges the reader to think deeper about the poem, thus dehumanizing the words “one way,” “wherever,” and “bar.”

In the context of the poem and the tone, it can be seen how the narrator looks down or even pities those being spoken of. The question is to why. It is both internal and external pity, as those who choose to look out only into what seems as “never-ending unconsciousness” are betraying what their external bodies are capable of. Stuck in the “quicksand” of narrowmindedness and low expectations, one can never hope to get anywhere in life.

It’s in the beauty of the last two lines of the last stanza that we are illustrated a more complex vision to this poem.

“But when was that ever a bar / To any watch they keep?”

This is what alludes to the reality within the metaphors that the poem is made of. Frost may be portraying a very literal meaning of the juxtaposition of being at sea and land. Or, the way I see it, he may be calling to the very reality of one’s limitations. The ones we place on ourselves as well as the one’s being placed on us, physical, emotional and even spiritual. Frost is basically saying since when is there a bar to how far one can dream, think, envision, and imagine, which therefore lets them be.

Therefore, I love this poem by Robert Frost. The title alone calls attention to this place in one’s reality that states, it’s neither one nor the other, and who says you must choose. It can be both, or it can be none, or it can be one, but the beauty is that even if it is either or, in reality, it’s neither nor.

Want to enjoy more of Frost’s poems for yourself?  You can borrow the Collected Poems, Prose & Plays by Robert Frost from the Hoboken Public Library; this includes an impressive variety of his work including all his collected poems.  You can also check out several ecollections of his poems on Hoopla including The Road Not Taken And Other PoemsRobert Frost: Poetry for Kids features poems specially chosen for kids 8-14 by author and historian Jay Parini and accompanied by illustrations from Michael Paraskevason.  For a unique experience borrow Robert Frost: New England in Autumn, which features his autumn themed poems read throughout the farm country of Massachusetts and is available to stream from Kanopy.

Written by
Sherissa Hernandez
Adult Programming Assistant

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