Painting by Wyatt Hersey

ADVANTAGES OF BEING EVERGREEN

Cleveland State University Poetry Center, September 10, 2019
ISBN: 978-1-880834-00-8

Winner of the Cleveland State University Poetry Center Open Book Poetry Competition

Praise for Advantages of Being Evergreen

A girl has gone missing, or perhaps she never lived, was never born. There’s no skirmish line of fathers with flashlights, no hounds leaping brush, no hollers, no prayers, no long goodbyes, no mystery. But the woods speak, and the river always has a story to tell. Oliver Baez Bendorf asks us to listen. This book, Advantages of Being Evergreen, offers a topography of the body—each poem, a dropped pin, locating across a broad intricate landscape: memory, hunger, tenderness, grief, and fear. To read these poems is to trust the momentum of tributaries or the distance traveled when the trail is full of switchbacks. This work is an exercise of faith. We trace scars, we follow smoke back to flame, and “we dream of sanctuary.” 
- Amaud Jamaul Johnson, author of Darktown Follies

Equal part prayer and potion and survival guide, Oliver Baez Bendorf’s remarkable Advantages of Being Evergreen is an essential book for our time and for all time. With rigorous compassion and great formal dexterity Bendorf imagines a new world for all of our animal selves in which we are truly seen and truly safe. At the same time these are poems that never shy from the shocking violence and cruelty of this world. I don’t know when I’ve read a book that is so gentle and ferocious at the same time. Over and over again people come together to make their individual and communal body whole, knowing all the while that so much of the world seeks to wreck even the simplest kinds of safety. Baez Bendorf is making a future grammar for the moment all of our vessels are free and held. I am living for the world these poems anticipate. And I’m so happy to be held by them in the times that keep coming on this endless road to safety. This is a book of the earth’s abiding wonder. And the body’s unbreakable ability to bloom.
- Gabrielle Calvocoressi, author of Rocket Fantastic

Written from and with death, the poems in Advantages of Being Evergreen offer elegies; they utter prayers that ask our dead to stay; they come as breath constrained and animated by a form that narrates an excess of natures, an excess of rivers that interrupt this book as the poet ponders the impossible question of what it means to be home. Here the body is a shared condition. The body is language. It changes. It resists. It mourns. It reincarnates with the “teeth of our dead around our neck.”
- Daniel Borzutzky, author of Lake Michigan

It is in your hands, now just open it, anywhere, it is so good! A book of poems to have in our days, a book shifting our views, our love, our faith in poetry and in life. Oliver Baez Bendorf returns poetry to its origins of magic, his feet walking on many roads to bring us this book. Dear witch-poet Oliver, may you be held as you want by a strong thing that "chooses mercy."
- CAConrad, author of While Standing in Line for Death

Excerpts


THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO X

Seven Kitchens Press, May 2019
Selected for the Rane Arroyo Chapbook Series

Excerpts in: Dreginald, Hobart, Heavy Feather Review, Gertrude

Pre-order


THE SPECTRAL WILDERNESS

Winner of the Stan & Tom Wick Poetry Prize

Finalist for the Thom Gunn Award for Gay Poetry

Named a Best Poetry Book of 2014 by Entropy Magazine

Named a Spectacular Book of 2015 by Split This Rock

ISBN: 978-1-60635-211-3 / Pages: 88 / Kent State University Press, January 2015

Purchase: Kent State University Press / Amazon

Praise for THE SPECTRAL WILDERNESS

What gorgeous and ravenous rackets Oliver Bendorf’s poems are made of; what a yearning and beautiful heart. ‘Lift a geode from the ground and crack me open,’ he writes, which is more or less what these poems do for me: break me open to what might sparkle and blaze, what might glisten and burn inside. The Spectral Wilderness is a wonderful book. - Ross Gay

It’s a joy. . .to come nearer to a realm of experience little explored in American poetry, the lives of those who are engaged in the complex project of transforming their own gender… Oliver Bendorf writes from a paradoxical, new-world position: the adult voice of a man who has just appeared in the world. A man emergent, a man in love, alive in the fluid instability of any category. - Mark Doty, from the introduction

In poem after poem he builds and rebuilds a body, a story, a desire that are at once familiar and strange, capable of brightness like any headlight but also capable of losing that light in their brokenness which makes us love them even more. - Natalie Diaz

An otherworldly pastoral, a queer ecology endlessly transformed by possibility, grief, and the unruly wanting of our names and bodies. Stunningly lyrical and beautifully theoretical, The Spectral Wilderness is an invitation one cannot turn down. - Stacey Waite

It’s wonder that subsumes these poems… The Spectral Wilderness is full of beautiful little bodies, written into being (into becoming) by a maker from whom we’ll continue to be amazed and enchanted. - Lambda Literary Review