REVIEW: ADVANTAGES OF BEING EVERGREEN – OLIVER BAEZ BENDORF (CSU POETRY CENTER)

evergreen – adjective
ev·​er·​green | \ ˈe-vər-ˌgrēn \
Definition of evergreen (Entry 1 of 2)
1: having foliage that remains green and functional through more than one growing season
— compare DECIDUOUS sense 1
2a: retaining freshness or interest : PERENNIAL
b: universally and continually relevant : not limited in applicability to a particular event or date

Meriam-Webster Dictionary

Typically I’d start this with lines from one of the poems inside Advantages of Being Evergreen, but the dictionary definition seemed of equal importance. The idea that Oliver Baez Bendorf has created a both lasting and immediately relevant collection is so important. It does retain freshness. It does retain interest. And it is most definitely perennial. It’s natural – or should be.

The idea that we are only others until we recognize ourselves is what keeps this collection moving. We are equals who do not know it. We are hidden behind skin and bones and names and colors and genders and identity, but we are not whole. And besides, “God, I thought you hated me. The self / deflates.”

Advantages of Being Evergreen is not angry. It’s tender and moving and emotionally draining at times. Bendorf is not attacking anyone here; rather, Bendorf is imploring us to view others, and ourselves, as one people in one place surviving at the same time.

from “After a While, We Stop Asking”

Purchase your copy of Advantages of Being Evergreen from CSU Poetry Center.

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