Praise for Lin Nelson Benedek’s First Book
In her debut collection, I Was Going to Be a Cowgirl, Lin Nelson Benedek writes poems with the reckless joy of someone who knows she has been loved and is still being loved, such that memory becomes a tender place to reclaim pleasures forgotten or lost and to heal wounds. These are poems fecund with language reaching for the sensual and for a quality of honesty that is refreshingly vulnerable. Bees, cowgirls, rock and roll, motherhood, booze, juicy steaks, riotous women and the myths of American western history all come together in this woman’s leaping imaginings. This collection is a deep-throated flower of consuming pleasures out of which you will emerge stained with “the spices of a million flowers”!
Kwame Dawes, author of City of Bones: A Testament
I Was Going to Be a Cowgirl builds a world that’s hard to resist, alive and pulsing with music. I am moved by how fearlessly these poems confront the past, the imperfections of our relationships, and amid loss carves out a life. With an eye for even the smallest detail, the pollen on a bee’s leg, her vision expands, sweeping across oceans and mountain ranges, offering an entire world. These poems are essential not just because they lead us into the unknown, but because they return us to ourselves.
Dorianne Laux, Book of Men
The poems in Lin Nelson Benedek’s striking debut collection—abuzz with acute reckonings, dive bars, and bees—conjure the vital landscapes and figures of the past with her distinctive mix of vulnerability and grit. Benedek interweaves fraught family narratives with tender appraisals of a long marriage, often invoking a cast of self-reliant iconoclasts (Annie Oakley, a dynamite-loving grandfather) as well as the magnetic cultural vistas of West Coast bohemia. In one poem a speaker at a concert hears Leon Russell spin a beguiling shaggy-dog story from the stage. Elsewhere a great-grandmother from Nebraska, who teaches Shakespeare to local women, declares, “I don’t want to be remembered for my pies.” These disarming poems are by turns “outlaw beautiful,” gutsy, and unguarded, and to each one Benedek brings her radiant ear and bracing anecdotal eye.
Anna Journey, Vulgar Remedies
Boozy on blossoms and coltish delight, the narrator is everygirl who desires to be cowgirl, road scholar, sword swallower, hollerer, and one day finds herself in concert with husband and son. A wild and generous spirit informs these poems as they move from the opening epigraph by William Blake—My mother groaned! My father wept. Into the dangerous world I leapt—to a celebration of being—fully-fledged.
Sandra Alcosser, Except by Nature
Praise for Lin Nelson Benedek’s Second Book