Title: Depression and Other Magic Tricks
Author: Sabrina Benaim
Length: 160 pages
Published by: Button Poetry
Pub date: Aug 27th, 2017
Source: A digital copy was provided via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
My Rating: ★★★☆☆
The short version: I cannot recommend Sabrina’s poetry videos highly enough. Her written work… I’m not so sure.
The long version: I definitely have some mixed feelings about this one. I got so excited when I first heard Sabrina Benaim was releasing her own poetry collection. I had seen a lot of her work on Youtube, and I had really enjoyed her poetry and how she performed it.
Which, to be honest, is where I think my biggest problem was. Sabrina is an incredible performance poet; she can recite her poetry and be open and raw, and everything from her body language to her tone of voice influences how we perceive her work.
For me, at least, that passion didn’t translate to the page as well as I had expected. I think part of it was the formatting for a lot of the poems. Instead of being in traditional stanza form, a lot of them were laid out the way you’d format a poetry quote.
So, instead of/ lines and stanzas/ it looked exactly/ like this. It created a sort of stuttering effect that would have worked well if it had been reserved for a few poems, but I’d guess at least half of them were formatted that way, so it just made a lot of them difficult for me to read and really get into.
“‘i’m sorry it’s so dark in here’/ i tell you/ but i am not sorry/ for the darkness/ only that it makes you so afraid” –hurdles / dreams
Even some of the poems that were formatted closer to how I had expected didn’t connect with me as well as I had hoped. Some of them came across as… the best way I can describe it is to say that, in my head, it almost sounded like a 12-year-old was reading it. The content was good enough that you could connect with it, but the way it was presented just wasn’t what I had expected from someone I saw as a great poet. Though, again, that might change if I had heard her read it, instead of reading it myself.
“i am at the grocery store because i feel sad. i feel sad because nobody is in love with me. nobody is in love with me but everybody loves me. everybody loves me because i am good at making people feel good.” – the loneliest sweet potato
That isn’t to say this book doesn’t have its moments. There are a lot of great poetic techniques in some of the poems, which kept me reading and wanting more. I really connected with the book at times, and was able to see myself in them. The way Sabrina presents her own struggles with mental health is open and relatable, and I wanted to see more poetry like that.
“my heart has developed a kind of amnesia,
where it remembers everything but itself.” –what i told the doctor
At the end of the day, this collection takes a good look at mental health and its stigmas and effects, so it has the potential to connect with a lot of people. I would just recommend maybe trying to find videos of her performing the poems so you can read/hear them in her voice.
Thanks for reading!
Have you read this book yet? If so, what did you think? If not, do you plan to? Let me know in the comments below!