Review of Ben Kopel’s VICTORY

Ben Kopel. H_NGM_N BKS, $14.95 trade paper (112p) ISBN 978-0-9832215-5-5

“I scream City of Love! City by the River!/Don’t disown your skinny fisted sons/locked inside the locker room./They too are the father of you./They too are made mostly of noise.” Written in sometimes urgent and always heartfelt language, Kopel’s outstanding full length debut scours our schoolroom clubroom locker room nostalgia in search of happiness and human connection. Plump with equal parts whimsy and solemnity, these poems flex and curl and splay out, veins vulnerable and thick as ropes: “The kids from the federal/tanning booths have burned/down the Dairy Queen again.//Everyone died warm/& no one was alone.” The narrator’s keen sense of being surrounded by death at all times allows him to understand just how alive and precious he is. And in Kopel’s deft hands, the emotion and palpable delicacy presented here infuses the words with a pulse of their own until they thump up from the page: “The happiest days of my life/were those when ugliness/found no lit vacancy,/and I spent the night fukt/inside your skinny arms.” Simultaneously bursting from and pulling close modern tethers such as flat screens, cell phones, and medications—the layers through which we search for (and sometimes find) each other, ourselves, our security blankets—this  remarkable collection shows a rising young talent spotlighting every glimmer of majesty in a crystal chandelier that’s swung and then shattered. (March, 2012)

Purchase Victory HERE.

Reviewer bio: Mel Bosworth is the author of the novel FREIGHT. Visit his website at