The joy of reading Poems By The Skunk River Valley Boys by Barry and Steve Benson is to watch grown men pay such careful attention to the world. The first "rule" in Barry's poem "Rules for Frustrated Poets" is to "Heed the image" - and that's exactly what these poems do. Here you'll find people (like Aunt Clara) places (mostly Iowa), rock and roll songs, the aurora borealis, plants and animals ( wolves, deer, pheasants, muskrats, pigs, hippos, bees). In the end these are poems about remembering, but what they really teach us is how to see.
- Keith Ratzlaff, Author of Man Under a Pear Tree, Across the Known World, Dubious Angels: Poems After Paul Klee, and Then, a Thousand Crows ~~~
Steve and Barry Benson are story holders. They offer glimpses of childhood experiences common to us all - mysteries of first deaths and first kisses, lazy summer days and crazy summer gossip, athletic triumphs and natural insights. At once flirty, funny, and philosophical, Poems By The Skunk River Valley Boys connects us to these stories and to each other. A deftly woven presentation of these two brothers' voices, this book will delight readers and compel reflection.
- Christine Stewart Nunez, Author of Keeping Them Alive ~~~
If captain Renault dropped in on the Iowa poetry scene and pronounced, "Round up the usual suspects," these two characters would certainly be among the bunch. Published across the poetic landscape (of the U.S.A.) , including our beloved state anthology Lyrical Iowa, these two brothers play a brisk poetic ping-pong across the margins and gutters of their outstanding new book. How many sibling co-authors of poetry exist out there? I would guess darn few. What are the odds of two brothers being such capable poets? Are they putting something in the water?
- Rustin Larson, Author of Bum Cantos, Winter Jazz, The Collected Discography of Morning, The Wine-Dark House, and Crazy Star ~~~
Plainsongs has printed poems by Barry and Steve Benson for many years and is always pleased when they send us new materials for consideration. Now we congratulate the brothers on their second joint collection. Their poems are always rich in their own lived experiences in a recognizable Iowa context. Their poems are authentic, their insights telling, their voices resonant with Midwestern accents - with lips set for reticent understatement to conceal the depth of feeling behind the words. It's a pleasure to see their second volume!
- Dwight Marsh, Emeritus Editor of Plainsongs published by Hastings College in Nebraska