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From "one of the most impressive voices in poetry today" (Dissent magazine), a new collection that shines a light on forgotten or obscured parts of the past in order to reconstruct a deeper, truer vision of the present
Gregory Pardlo described Joshua Bennett's first collection of poetry, The Sobbing School, as an "arresting debut" that was "abounding in tenderness and rich with character," with a "virtuosic kind of code switching." Bennett's new collection, Owed, is a book with celebration at its center. Its primary concern is how we might mend the relationship between ourselves and the people, spaces, and objects we have been taught to think of as insignificant, as fundamentally unworthy of study, reflection, attention, or care. Spanning the spectrum of genre and form–from elegy and ode to origin myth–these poems elaborate an aesthetics of repair. What's more, they ask that we turn to the songs and sites of the historically denigrated so that we might uncover a new way of being in the world together, one wherein we can truthfully reckon with the brutality of the past and thus imagine the possibilities of our shared, unpredictable present, anew.
"Not only are these poems eloquent but also lyrical, intelligent, and, occasionally, funny. Most reflect upon and communicate the pain, joy, and intensity of the current Black experience... In a time when many confront and protest the racism prevalent in our society, Bennett's new book is vital." —Library Journal (starred review)
"Bennett is one of the most impressive voices in poetry today . . . he is also quietly building a reputation as one the brightest intellectual and political thinkers of a new generation."
– Jesse McCarthy, Dissent Magazine
"We're lucky to have Joshua Bennett's Owed at this hour in America. The resonances of 'ode' and 'owed' underscore his tremendous acts of invention amid 'an ever-expanding grand Black Epilogue.' Lyrical and political fibers are woven through narratives as clear and idiosyncratic as the plastic on your grandmother's couch. Owed fights for the 'ground where the children can play & come home whole.' Bennett swings with song and exaltation; he swings with resistance and defense. I'm glad to have his amazing collection right now. I will be glad to have it tomorrow." —Terrance Hayes, author of American Sonnets for My Past and Future Assassin
Professor Bennett was interviewed on the website, Poets and Writers: 50 and Forward, and also on South Dakota Public Broadcasting, The Inside Flap: A Weekly Book Podcast, The Roundtable, WAMC Northeast Public Radio, among others.