“Bennett’s artistry lies in his ability to create poems that shatter complacency with bricks of loaded language.” — Quill & Quire on Civil and Civic
“How are you doing, happinesswise?” This is the unifying thread, the casual-sounding but slant and penetrating question posed by these poems as they interrogate what we tell ourselves about happiness, about its opposite, and about ourselves in the process.
Happinesswise is both cacophony and chorus: it’s the voices of palliative patients and physicians, and the place where the dream state of a young pregnant woman clashes with the online reality of daily life. It’s personal too: a suite explores a five-year period of Bennett’s autistic son’s childhood, charting a journey of love and misunderstandings, of anxiety and celebration as the wonders of neurodiversity unfold.
There are elegies too. And confessional poems, like “On the Occasion of Her Swearing In,” where Bennett witnesses up close his friend’s remarkable transition from Afghan refugee and grassroots activist to member of parliament and cabinet minister. Other poems demarcate the gaps (literal and less so) found every day in rural Ontario, or consider personal, political, and cultural history within a series of loops and twists.
Jonathan Bennett is the author of seven books, including two previous collections of poetry, Civil and Civic and Here is my street, this tree I planted. He is a winner of the K.M. Hunter Artist Award in Literature. Born in Vancouver, raised in Sydney, Australia, Bennett lives in the village of Keene, Ontario.
PRAISE FOR HAPPINESSWISE
“Incisive, elegant and fierce, Bennett’s Happinesswise tackles the most illusive and illusory aspects of our culture. It ranges widely in terms of style and theme, but will nonetheless leave readers with the distinct impression of having encountered something wholly real.” — Johanna Skibsrud, author of The Sentamentalists
PRAISE FOR PREVIOUS WORKS
"Bennett's artistry lies in his ability to create poems that shatter complacency with bricks of loaded language." — Quill & Quire on Civil and Civic
"Jonathan Bennett has cleverly and sensitively described the many types of love tested by war. The result is a rewarding and intensely moving read: deceptively gruelling, given its slim dimensions, but also — like its heroine — devastatingly beautiful." — National Post on The Colonial Hotel
"A solid novel on morality in our not-quite-postcolonial world." — Globe and Mail on The Colonial Hotel
"This short novel is at once lyrical and brutal, alluring in its spare, elegant prose and shocking in its honest portrayal of the realities of political corruption and duplicitous leadership. Bennett is able to demonstrate the timelessness of the themes of the original classic story in this contemporary setting, offering both emotional depth and universal truths about the human condition." — Waterloo Region Record on The Colonial Hotel
"Bennett has presented a compelling, lyrical novel of love, suffering and reconciliation." — Winnipeg Free Press on The Colonial Hotel
"Entitlement is an attractive read, and nicely covers a world that goes often uncovered in our own literatures." — National Post
"Bennett's storytelling is effortless in its pace and time shifts, and his dialogue glints like a sharpened knife." — The Walrus on Entitlement