I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
You may have seen Sabrina Benaim’s spoken word performance of Explaining My Depression to My Mother which at the time of writing this review has 6.9 million views on youtube. Her collection of poetry further explores mental health, love, and family and is full of similarly sharp and passionate poems.
I really adore Sabrina Benaim’s voice. I like the way that she repeats phrases and words throughout her poems, and how this reflects the way that anxious thoughts can swim around in your head, brewing and evolving as you mull them over, so that one simple thought can become, over a few lines, a complex metaphor to explain her feelings. I liked how you can’t always tell if she’s talking to herself, or to someone else, and how striking her voice is, so that you can almost hear how she would read it out loud as you read it.
Of course, Explaining My Depression To My Mother is a fantastic poem, but there were others that really stood out to me as well. The line “my heart has developed a kind of amnesia, where it remembers everything but itself” in What I Told The Doctor is beautiful, and The Loneliest Sweet Potato is a beautiful exploration of feeling lonely even though you are not, to the naked eye, ‘alone’. I loved how the poems (i) and (ii) are blended together in the later poem Avowal so that I was flicking back and forth to see how the words are intertwined to give them a whole new meaning.
I don’t read a lot of poetry, but Sabrina Benaim’s collection blew me away. I loved the simplicity of her words, the intricacy of the imagery, the strength and passion of her voice. The poems had me blinking back tears, and then chuckling moments later. I also had the great luck to be able to see Sabrina Benaim perform during her UK tour, and it is another experience I could not recommend more. She is full of emotion, and captures your attention with ease.
i forgive myself even if i am the last person i want to forgive
whatever i have come from / wherever i am going