He Talks Frankly About Desire
|"Surely each of us feels like an alien from time to time, fallen into a world that can’t possibly be our own. And who hasn’t looked from time to time at a lover and thought, We might as well be from different planets? In this slyly ironic, unexpectedly moving sequence of poems, Benjamin Grossberg takes these metaphors as grounds for an aching, comic meditation on what it is to be self and other in this space “we/ cross and cross in unmarried vastness.” Space Traveler is an engaging, memorable delight."
"What an engaging narrator speaks the monologues in Benjamin Grossberg’s third book, Space Traveler! He is a gay, male, space alien who is smart, funny, and wicked wise. He speaks knowledgeably about “black holes,” “orbital decay,” and “The Great Moon Hoax” of 1835; yet, he also has a “go lever” on his spaceship, develops crushes that come on like major astral events, and can talk pop psychology, cyberspeak, and a little Yiddish with equal aplomb. Like most of the contemporary world, he feels rushed and crowded, as well as isolated and aimless as he sails around in his little spaceship. The end of a relationship has occasioned the narrator’s departure from Earth, and there is wry tenderness in his meditations on love, desire, and the aging self in space and time. This book clearly establishes Benjamin Grossberg as one of our most original and consistently interesting poets. The poems in Space Traveler are mature, accomplished, and—forgive me—simply out of this world!"
Sweet Core Orchard
Terro Ant Killer
|"Poet Benjamin S. Grossberg planted his own small orchard a few years ago near his home in Ohio and called it Sweet Core Orchard, a resonant name that became the title of his second book of poetry and the latest winner of the Tampa Review Prize for Poetry. Tampa Review judges praised the book for its "compelling affirmation of the longer poem . . . brilliant lyrical and thematic arcs, rich use of archetype and symbol, and heartening honesty." Poet and critic Edward Hirsch, a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets and president of the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, describes it as "a brave, unabashed, at times theological, and utterly exuberant collection of poems. This book is a beautiful orchard, and there is a sweet wild energy at its core."
“I want to write a body,” Benjamin Grossberg declares in this brave, unabashed, at times theological, and utterly exuberant collection of poems. This books is a beautiful orchard, and there is a sweet, wild energy at its core”
“Benjamin Grossberg’s Sweet Core Orchard teems with life. The animal and vegetal world animates and dominates these poems of self-discovery and yearning. Pigs and dogs, deer and horses, beetles, lightning bugs and fruit flies cry out as he composes his human song. Above all these are poems of refuge: from familial cruelty and its mythic history, the specter of AIDS and the terror of loneliness and desire, which moves him from a cramped apartment in the city to a farm where he’s surrounded by apples and angels, a Bible in one hand, a seed catalogue in the other, looking out the window to his newly planted orchard while at his back God leans over the house “on a casual tour / of the wreck of the world.”
The Auctioneer Bangs His Gavel
|“Reading The Auctioneer Bands His Gavel, I had the sense of finding a poet I’d been looking for unawares: one who intertwines a survey of human sexuality (and gay sexuality at that) with theological questions; one who tackles ambitious poetic projects without sounding pretentious; one who writes fables using the ordinary materials of daily reality; one who balances the Jewish sources of the Western tradition with its Hellenic counterpart; one who knows how to be serious with the assistance of laughter; one who can tell a story and except his own autobiography as a way of gaining larger perspectives on experience. ‘No things but in ideas,’ seems to be his aesthetic motto, and that has service him well in his goal—to declare that we are free to follow our natures in pursuit of happiness.”
"Sometimes our dreams, however lyrical and immediately transcendent they may be, can serve as reminders of what we are denied, and Benjamin S. Grossberg’s The Auctioneer Bangs His Gavel wastes no time underscoring this point.
Opening with “Pig Auction” and the auctioneer’s “Three quarter quarter quarter do I have half?”, the speaker implores us to “Picture this: a tent, two hundred spectators // on three sides, auctioneer on a dais.” As the narrative continues to unfold, the descriptions of this auctioneer are worth noting: “his voice / tripping along between speech and song—,” his “voice tripping / like water down a rock face”—speech and song merged into aggressive salesmanship; the tranquil and quenching properties of water replaced by the torrential and adversarial qualities of a flood.
Though the speaker and his companion eventually move on, the pig’s oblivion to the dinner plate lingers. In successive poems, Grossberg establishes the animal kingdom as a reflective trope through which the speaker considers gay sexuality, with society and God taking turns on the auctioneer’s dais. The visceral impact of this is jarring. . . [READ MORE]
Underwater Lengths in a Single Breath
Middle Class Consideration of Lust
|“Scholar of poetry and prolific poet himself, Benjamin S. Grossberg comes to readers with his own collection, Underwater Lengths in a Single Breath. Thought-provoking and profound in their aims, he offers much verse that does far more than simply entertain. Under water Lengths in a Single Breath is a strong collection that should not be missed.”
“Each title of Benjamin Grossberg’s poems might well serve as the name for his entire book, from “Conclusion of a Poem Begun by Marlowe” to “From the Shore” and “Renaissance Fair.” This attractive concurrence signifies that however various his inspirations, Grossberg’s exhalations are always from the same lungs, the same brain, the same heart. His is a united sensibility, the kind we usually attribute to “The Time of Myths,” as the poet calls it. This extraordinarily rich and entertaining first book is unique in my experience for its eager and outrageous connections with the masters who enjoyed such mythical thinking – Shakespeare, Whitman – as well as for its daring departures from what those same masters, so lovingly ransacked, might ever have undertaken. Grossberg is learned though anything but knowing, playful but in dead earnest, urbane yet refreshingly pastoral. I rejoice that these poems are in the world of American letters.”
“Grossberg writes poems so well-fashioned they appear to have been wholly conceived. (“Artifice is our general burden,” quoth Amerigo Vespucci.) But radical too: in their erotic reveries, and with knowing sadness, the poems here take up classical matters anew and afresh. What a fine book, distinguished in these times for its historical reach and lyric substance”