Sabrina Benaim’s Depression & Other Magic Tricks

I received a copy of this novel from the publisher via Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review. 

I first encountered Sabrina Benaim’s particular flavour of writing, one long night when I’d fallen into a Button Poetry hole on YouTube, and had the most cathartic experience of my life, watching amazing and talented people putting into everything I never knew could be put into words.

Sabrina Benaim’s voice is so powerful and distinctive, and it translates perfectly into the written form. You don’t need to have heard her powerful reading of “Explaining My Depression to My Mother: A Conversation.” to be able to follow the contours of her voice as you read her poem. The way she writes is so unique to her, that you could encounter any of the poems in this book anywhere else, and you would still be able to think, “Oh, that’s a Sabrina Benaim.”

I honestly enjoyed the book. The poems were all very clean (even while intentionally messy), and personal in a way that demands that you give something of yourself as you read along. I did not feel drawn to her more “Romantic” poems, but I was still able to enjoy them. Nothing in this book feels unnecessary or added just for the sake of adding things, which unfortunately is quite common in poetry compilations and chapbooks.

My favorite quote of the entire book (and trust me, it was hard to pick) is  “What you see is what you get, but that’s not all there is.” because I think it can very  succinctly describe the reading of the book, especially if you are someone who, like me, came here from “Explaining My Depression to My Mother”, and had preconceived idea of what this would be like.

The book is about depression, yes. But it is also about so much more than that, and I think this is definitely something that should be approached with an open mind and heart, knowing that yes there is sadness and panic here, but there’s also laughter, advice and joy. Oh, and magic, of course, every book as a little bit of that.

-L.

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