By Jim Mckenzie
At Last - Fatherhood In The Arts!
I was delighted to read and eagerly devour Ben Berman’s new collection of poems Figuring In The Figure, which he boldly delivers from the perspective of his multi-faceted role of being a new father, a husband, and a man. As any father will tell you, until the 21st Century, there has been little or no outlet for fathers to express their sensitivity and doubts without being disparaged as being a caricature “Mr dad”.
My being a veteran dad of 7 home childbirths spanning over 20 years (having caught six of our babies and being the unassisted birth attendant for one…) I was excited to see a “real “artistic expression of the fathering/childbirth experience, focusing so much on the workings of the inner fathering mind, rather than the nuts and bolts and belittling and negative prose that one often finds about the role of fathers.
Ben manages to capture a father's doubts and fears in an often humorous way, as well as the joys and little victories that we enjoy when we get fatherhood right (sometimes by accident, sometimes by design), but he also nimby brings each poem to a conclusion that carries weight and purpose.
For example, in We Practice Changing (which, incidentally, is my favorite poem, even though it is brief) Ben shares his fading enthusiasm for birthing class instruction in the face of his fading blood sugar! But then he captures the indefinable energy that drives us as parents to keep going in the face of tiredness, stress or just plain fear of failing as a parent in a beautiful and poignant way: “I look over at my wife and some inner voice begins to kick in, reminds me” Forget what’s in you and focus on what’s in her”.
This resonated with me, and I am sure that you will similarly connect to many poems in Figuring In The Figure. I hope that Ben Berman will update his works as he proceeds on his fatherhood journey, because by his sharing his experiences so openly and artfully I am sure that he will help many, many modern fathers to become better and more open, by expressing their inner voices too.
Disclosure: I was not compensated for this post, however I did receive a sample for
my review. All opinions are my own and not influenced in any way.