If I were asked to list my Top Ten favorite contemporary poets, I wouldn’t hesitate to include Benjamin Myers. A professor of literature at Oklahoma Baptist University, Myers’ poetry deeply resonates with my own history and understanding of the world. I can’t explain why, exactly. It’s not the familiar condition known as “echo chamber.” But his poems do seem familiar in a deep, personal sense.
I discovered this when I read his Elegy for Trains (2010) and Lapse Americana (2013). But it was his Black Sunday (2019) that really punched it home. With its poems about the Oklahoma Dust Bowl of the 1930s, I found myself not that far away, in northern Louisiana in the 1930s, reliving my own family history. And that’s the key – I can’t read his poetry without revisiting my own family.
His new collection, The Family Book of Martyrs, does exactly that.