“Playground” picks up momentum from Benevento’s previous two books of poetry, his volume of “selected” poems, (Expecting Songbirds 1983-2015), and his chapbook of poems in his own invented form, After, by including poems with an even wider range of publication dates than in Expecting Songbirds, and the presence of eight new “After” poems among its twenty-six lyrics.
Themes such as the after effects of unrequited love, growing up in working class Queens, the redeeming potential in family, all make their appearance. This collection offers far more than recapitulation, though, with poems set in places as varied as a bagel shop in Columbus, a tapas bar in downtown Miami and a barrio in East Oakland, and subjects ranging from rehabbing a shoulder impingement, to participating in a track program for underprivileged youth to inventing a new kind of cake.
Throughout these poems, Benevento affirms, as he has in published work for over thirty-five years now, his obsession with the paradox of poetry’s ability to offer hope to a world that seems often hopeless without it.
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About the Author
Benevento's poems, stories, essays and reviews have appeared in about 300 places, including: Poets & Writers, The Chattahoochee Review, Pearl, Wisconsin Review, Inkwell, South Dakota Review, RE: Arts & Letter, Prairie Schooner and Bilingual Review. His work has three times been nominated for Pushcart Prizes. In 1991 he was featured in a special issue of The MacGuffin, "New Decade, New Writers.
Benevento's books include four novels, three full length poetry volumes, three poetry chapbooks, a book of short stories and an edited book of the poetry of Jim Thomas. They are, Holding On, Warthog Press, 1996; Willing To Believe, Timberline Press, 2003; Plumbing In Harlem, Independence Books, 2003; The Odd Squad, Behler Publications, 2005 (a finalist for the 2006 John Gardner Fiction Book Award); My Puerto Rican Past, Ginninderra Press, 2006; Some of My Best Friends and Other Fictions, Lewis-Clark Press, 2008; Brief Tracks: Poems by Jim Thomas, Truman State University Press, 2009; Tough Guys Don't Write, Finishing Line Press, 2011; The Monsignor's Wife, Moonshine Cove Press, 2013; Saving St. Teresa, Black Opal Books, 2015; Expecting Songbirds, Purple Flag Imprint of the Visual Artists Collective, 2015 and After, Mouthfeel Press, 2017.