The poems in Jeffrey Michael Bennett’s Collection of Poetry: More of Life’s Reflection concern universal themes of love, mortality, forgiveness, and gratitude.
Bennett’s work is best characterized as inspirational/ self-help, religious/ spiritual, and greeting-card verse. The poems employ simple rhyme schemes and familiar sentiments, including “I’ll be your sunshine every day/ I’ll still be here to show you the way”; and “A new baby boy, or was it a girl?/ Another little miracle brought into this world.”
Overall, they lack the concrete and sensory details to make them memorable. The speaker tells what he’s thinking or feeling, rather than illustrating his ideas with vivid images or specific examples. For example, “Some Words” begins: “some words can make you happy/ some words can make you sad.// some words can be funny/ some words can make you mad.” Readers never learn what any of these words are, who is speaking them, or in what context. The poems lack depth and substance, and the speaker feels remote, unknowable.
Because the collection is not organized by theme or chronology, readers may also be confused by what appear to be two rival narratives. In poems like “Sixty-Seven Years” and “Who I Am,” the speaker seems to address with love and devotion his aging wife who suffers from memory loss: “I show you a picture/ you ask of who/ I say with a smile,/ ‘“This is me, and that is you.’”
Yet other poems describe the speaker falling in love for the first time in his later years. (“I’ve never been in love before/ every time I thought I was,/ someone came and closed the door.// this is all brand-new.”) Readers are likely to be disoriented by this apparent contradiction in the speaker’s story.
Collection of Poetry no doubt holds strong, sentimental appeal for its author and his close friends and relatives. However, it lacks the aesthetic merit and literary sophistication to engage a wider reading audience.
Also available in hardcover and ebook.