Melanie Reviews: Obliterate the Following Items From the Beginning of Time

Lori Hettler
Aug 27, 2016 · 3 min read
Image for post
Image for post

Obliterate the Following Items from the Beginning of Time by Thais Benoit

Pages: 35

Publisher: NAP magazine

Released: July 2013

Reviewed by Melanie Page

More and more the way we encounter “books” surprises me. Thais Benoit’s bitty work is a downloadable PDF as opposed to a thing with pages, even pages stapled together and handi-crafted with love. I approach such small works in a PDF more like a Happy Meal representation of the author’s writing than a full meal that showcases the writer’s palate.

Benoit is able to create interesting juxtapositions in a small spaces. She writes:

Image for post
Image for post

The speaker runs from someone lecherous, but as she does, she doesn’t lose the youthful exuberance that compels us to bap flowers as we pass them (especially those hard-to-resist fluffy dandelions). Her speaker is two persons at once.

Beniot also juxtaposes strength with weakness by stringing together two famous women, one who saves everyone, the other who must be saved: “I’m a handful, forcefully felt / A pint sized Wonder Woman princess peach.” Blurring the differences between Wonder Woman and Princess Peach opens the door for Benoit to say her speaker is complicated and contradictory at times by cleverly conjuring these women of pop culture.

Complex speakers fill the other poems, too. One declares, “I like puzzle people” and later says, “I am a puzzle person.” The speaker defends herself, explains the speed and which her mind races, and still is open to understand another person intimately. She explains who she is: “i prefer to take my time; i like good accidents / and the kind of sunsets caused by pollution.” Benoit adds an unromantic flavor to the sunset by giving it a good dose of reality: the skies are filled with pollution, so this is how we experience sunsets today.

Some of the poems read more like lists without meaningful connections to the reader, like in the poem “things i’ve done as a child.” There is something familiar there, though; Benoit works in the alt-lit genre, typically a boys’ club of lowercase letters; nonsense exclamations about the beauty, and, conversely, meaninglessness of life; and pop culture references (Kanye, dubstep, hashtags). But she’s not so flighty — there is something there that resonates with me in some of Benoit’s stanzas, as opposed to leading me to think “brah, ur funny #LOL” like I usually do when I read alt-lit poems. Here’s an example of a stanza that represents youthfulness pile-driving into adulthood, a flighty speaker who understands consequences:

Image for post
Image for post

Melanie Page has an MFA from the University of Notre Dame and is an adjunct instructor in Indiana. She is the creator of Grab the Lapels, a site that publishes book reviews and interviews of folks who identify as women at grabthelapels.com.

(Originally published on 8/16/16 on thenextbestbookblog.blogspot.com)

TNBBC

Small press junkie searching endlessly for the next best…

Lori Hettler

Written by

Founder/ The Next Best Book Club. Freelance Publicist. Small Press Junkie. Feeding the reading addiction at http://thenextbestbookblog.blogspot.com

TNBBC

TNBBC

Small press junkie searching endlessly for the next best book

Lori Hettler

Written by

Founder/ The Next Best Book Club. Freelance Publicist. Small Press Junkie. Feeding the reading addiction at http://thenextbestbookblog.blogspot.com

TNBBC

TNBBC

Small press junkie searching endlessly for the next best book

Welcome to a place where words matter. On Medium, smart voices and original ideas take center stage - with no ads in sight. Watch

Follow all the topics you care about, and we’ll deliver the best stories for you to your homepage and inbox. Explore

Get unlimited access to the best stories on Medium — and support writers while you’re at it. Just $5/month. Upgrade

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store