Courtney Luk
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Book Reviews

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Depression & Other Magic Tricks by Sabrina Benaim

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Sabrina Benaim’s debut Depression & Other Magic Tricks is a phenomenal punch in the gut that I masochistically want to read again and again. Other than the catchy and paradoxical title, I was enraptured by her explosive presence on Button Poetry’s YouTube channel. Her poetry is even more powerful on the page.

In “explaining depression to my mother: a conversation,” Sabrina explains depression and anxiety in a way that will have many who suffer from these ailments saying, “YES!” With passages, such as:

my depression in a shape shifter;
one day it is as small as a firefly in the palm of a bear,
the next, it’s the bear.
those days i play dead until the bear leaves me alone.

This is me. This is my depression: a firefly and a bear, and me in the middle of all that shape shifting. For me, I need poetry like Sabrina’s to reach me in solidarity and comfort, especially when I’m in my worst moments. It soothes me like a blanket in the wintertime.

However, Sabrina also has poems that uplifts, such as her poems to her muse, Beyoncé! Who doesn’t love poetry about Queen B? In this way, Sabrina is able to latch onto a larger audience, to be more accessible to a mainstream market, in order to sway readers with her magic tricks toward the heavier topics of depression and what goes on in the mechanisms of her mind and possibly the reader’s.

A throughline of poems are Sabrina’s magic trick poems, such as my favorite “magic trick 002”:

she willingly thrusts her body onto the hook
all for a better look at the stars.

Sabrina’s honesty is beautiful, as is her language in metaphor and scene. I find myself sighing over and over again at many of her lines that make me feel lost at sea yet also at home.

Find Depression & Other Magic Tricks here.