Emily A. Benton is an assistant poetry editor for storySouth and a former poetry editor for The Greensboro Review. Her poems have been published in Hawai‘i Review, Hawai‘i Pacific Review, Hayden’s Ferry Review, Barn Owl Review, Southern Poetry Review, Harpur Palate, and other journals. She holds a BA in communication from Queens University of Charlotte and an MFA in creative writing from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Originally from Tennessee, she has lived in Hawai‘i since 2012.
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From “Sasquatch in Love”
How he pines among the needles and firs
for the nudist he once saw bathing by
the waterfall. For the moment she turned,
when a finch left the brush and her tame eye
almost caught his.
From the Contributor Commentary
I owe much of my love of language to the Bible and Shakespeare.
I grew up listening to Bible stories read aloud by my mother, quoted by our pastor from the pulpit, and recited by teachers in my Christian school. Starting at a young age, I read the Bible for pleasure and for spiritual understanding. In my later years, literature courses introduced me to Shakespeare, and I’d highlight Hamlet’s monologues with the same vigor as I did David’s psalms. Eventually, I became a more devout follower of the language of these verses than their teachings.
In graduate school, I was working on a thesis and further wrestling with ideas of belief. I was interested in faith as it extends to phenomena—how we attach ourselves to the existence of an “other” through blurry pictures, near-death experiences, and narratives circulated as evidence through the media or folklore in support of those curiosities. I was writing poems about biblical plagues, alien abductions, and ghosts (many since exiled to a hidden archive, or so I hope.)
Simultaneously, I was studying structures of verse, and was assigned to write a sonnet—nothing out of the ordinary, but given my obsessions at the time, I didn’t have to look far for a topic to fit the form.
I did not set out to write a poem with a male perspective, but like many women writers, it wasn’t a stretch for me to imagine the male gaze.