A Transit of Venus
My interest in Ed Bennett's work began in 2007 when I read a poem he had posted for review on an online workshop.
Over time, my admiration grew into respect the more I was exposed to his writing. At one point, while trying to
write a constructive critique for one of his poems, I realized I had no more to offer him. The clarity of his
poetic vision was too clear, and his method was too good. The only thing I could offer was to encourage him to
submit his work for publication. I'm glad he pursued this.
In his first poetry chapbook, A Transit of Venus, Ed Bennett explores the many facets of love with candor, passion,
and, at times, even humor. With the turn of each page, the face of a new life presents itself for us to absorb, to
study, and to appreciate, and quite possibly, to show us reflections of our own lives. Love requires work and like
deep love, this body of work is not tepid; it does not shy away from the frenzy of the rut, the aching of loss, or
the depth of emotion felt from a lifelong connection. It is filled with tenderness, with fervor, and with regret,
and it resonates at the deepest levels of the human psyche.
A Transit of Venus takes us from the awkwardness of one's first physical experiences to the passion of passing
encounters and the heartache of betrayal and lost love. Ed's poetic strength lies in his ability to depict images
and examples of human relationships that are uniquely his own. He draws on figures from history and mythology just
as easily as he writes about people we could recognize from our own lives, yet he enables us to relate to each of
them on a personal level. From the fan dance of Anne Sexton to the slender neck of a cormorant, and from the Mourner's
Kaddish of Judaism to the soulful notes rising from Charlie Parker's saxophone, he draws us into the intense moments
experienced by the characters in his poems.
It is exciting to find a poet who can write with such candor and is able to do this while conveying the details and
complexities of human passion. It is rare though to find a poet who is able to do it on a level that while deeply
personal is also universal in its message. Ed Bennett's A Transit of Venus does this, it does it well, and it does
so by exploring and explaining the human dimensions of love to which all readers can relate.
A few years ago, I stumbled upon a poem by Ed Bennett in a poetry forum. It must have been the title that drew me,
as his was one of many from which I could have chosen. What I recall about that long ago poem was my own quickened
heartbeat and soft, rapid breaths. Here was a poet who wrote as though every word was a suggestive caress to the
intellect. I could make love to an Ed Bennett poem.
Over the years, Ed's poetry has continued to grow and to show the faces of humanity with both a profound respect
and a brutal honesty. In this collection, Ed maneuvers the reader through first loves, lost loves, mistaken loves,
and unrequited loves. In "Tryst," we learn that "the first time is never perfect," but the tender tone of the
narrator belies the truth.
While poems about writing poems often seem quaint, Ed's contribution with "How to Write a Love Poem" walks the same
fine line as a relationship on the rocks and the soul forever changed thereafter while remembering "your children's
shouts / a Yankee game / your dog playing catch / the reckoning / the divorce." Such hard truths between lovers become
a song that sustains the collection through the many faces of human sexuality ‐ "the afterglow of my delusion." A love
song to Anne Sexton serves as an apt tribute to another erotic master.
Though we know by the end of the collection that "Life is not a journey. / It is a ballistic path," what Ed Bennett
possesses herein is not simple wisdom or wit. With every suggestive caress, he possesses more and more of the reader
who can't help but to come "alive with little more than / a kiss too long expected."
‐Larina Warnock, author of Guitar Without Strings, Editor, The Externalist
In astronomical terms, "transit" is the motion of one celestial body over another. Ed Bennett crosses and double
crosses Venus, named for the goddess of love and beauty, with sometime sweet regret in "Homage;" dark desire in
"Tryst;" and musical longing in "An Evening with Bird." Bennett's smart, carefully chosen and perfectly placed
words show us that love is not always pretty, but it's always fascinating. Heavens, I thought, as I travelled
from one love crafted poem to the next…stellar.
‐Bruce Dethlefsen, Wisconsin Poet Laureate, author of Breather (Fireweed Press, 2009)
Ed Bennett has poetry in his soul. Each poem in A Transit of Venus stands alone, yet is linked to the whole.
The collection reads like a memoir or novella, leaving the reader wanting to know, "What happened next?"
‐Sharmagne Leland-St. John, Editor-in-Chief, Quill and Parchment
To read the original review and notes from the publisher:
From the Book:
Pas de Deux
by Ed Bennett
She always works the casino bar
at 4 PM, gone by 8,
like clockwork in this room
without clocks, windows smoked
so no one sees a sunset.
And I wonder about this:
Why the afternoon?
Do working girls get nights off?
Work a second shift?
What does she do on
those long weekends when
they bring their wives
for guilt shopping and atonement?
We made eye contact once,
measuring possibilities until
she threw me back
to continue my own vices,
sip this sour bourbon,
wondering why I'm always here
at 4 PM without a clock or window
with lips unused to conversation.
First published: A Transit of Venus by Ed Bennett (The Lives You Touch Publications)