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"About the Work" with Eric Tyler Benick

In our "About the Work" series, Natalie Tombasco asks recent contributors for insight into their writing or for current sources of inspiration. Read Benick's poem, "fox hunt," in SER Vol. 39.2.


The poem “fox hunt” is part of a long sequence of poems I have been writing since 2013 (also appropriately titled “the fox hunts”). The use of the fox is a fairly pedestrian practice in symbolism on my part but has been historically useful for entering into the voice of these poems, which is never exactly intrinsic or extrinsic to the subject. I am endlessly fascinated by the rupture of signifier and signified as a failure of the human condition and the simple fact that we must codify and denominate our relationship to the world which functionally removes us so that what we experience are the symbolic functions of existence rather than existence itself. The fox is my cheap way of moving within that rupture. By never truly codifying its function, whether it is literal or symbolic, whether it is speaker or spoken, I feel the poem is free to absorb the signified world as an abject failure. This particular poem is modeled after a ghazal; however, it is not successfully that either. I think the ghazal is such a great way to break the world into manageable vignettes we can process through our own subjectivity. It also allows the poem to exist in a kind of montage (or better, non sequitur) and I always find it attractive when a poem finds a useful device that allows it to cover a lot of ground. I am not sure if this carries into the work, but it worked well in my head, so here we are.


ERIC TYLER BENICK is the author of the chapbooks I Don't Know What an Oboe Can Do (No Rest Press, 2020) and The George Oppen Memorial BBQ (The Operating System, 2019) as well as a founding editor at Ursus Americanus Press, a chapbook publisher. His work has appeared in Bat City Review, Armstrong Literary, Washington Square Review, 3 A.M. Magazine, Birdcoat Quarterly, Mount Island, Ghost Proposal, and elsewhere. He lives in Brooklyn.


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