Poetry Review: If This is the Age We End Discovery by Rosebud Ben-Oni

Published by: Alice James Books

Rosebud Ben-Oni’s award-winning poetry collection If This Is the Age we End Discovery made me feel like I should be reading more poetry. The poet takes form to every corner of the unexpected. She plays with letters cut half-way from the edge of pages and symbols like ‘::’ in place of words. Many poems in the collections have sections that resemble complex mathematical equations. All of this feels of the times with relatable pop-culture references like “Rick and Morty” while deconstructing family, physics, philosophy, and love.

The below illustrates Ben-Oni’s brilliant examination of her feeling that we are living in a simulation.

In a video launch event Ben-Oni shared that she wrote much of the collection while dealing with constant blood tests. She shared further that the nurse she saw repeated these tests identically each time. I have to assume as a reader that the nurse is the bloodsucking alien – buffering – as we dutifully follow the rules.

Throughout the collection, Ben – Oni explores a Hebrew concept “Elfes” which means to nullify, zero, to conceal, or to be, in the poet’s words, “…responsible for Dark Energy, vampire bunnies & insomnia; insatiable lover; enemy of mathematics & elegant equations.” Several poems in this collection, in fact embody the aesthetic of the aforementioned ‘elegant equations’. As a reader, it’s easy to feel both overwhelmed and at ease as we are being allowed into the poets exploration of deeply existential themes about fitting within family, the multiverse, and numerical values.

Frankly, I feel seen.

Just the other day, my husband and I were chatting about the new discovery in physics. You know, the one that says everything we thought we understood about the universe is basically wrong. This conversation morphed into a dissection of the human mind’s ability – or inability - to comprehend what current tech is telling us about the universe.

Ben-Oni – who clearly had a deeper understanding of physics than I, seems to almost poke fun at these failings while simultaneously validating them. She is an extraordinary poet who has struck the perfect balance between vampire bunny references and exquisite observation of human nature.

If you’ve ever giggled at, or truly contemplated the question of whether we are living in a simulation… check out this playful and brilliant book of poetry. It’s a disarming delight to read.

Review by Candice Suchocki Weir

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