Book Review – “N Search of H.E.R.” By H.J. Lee Bennett, III a.k.a. Lee The Poet

I am a hopeless romantic. I love the idea of “love”, though I often am unsure of it’s plausibility. I’ve been on a personal journey redefining and unlearning the “Disney” idea of love for some years and processing my concept of romantic and personal love each day. I find this important to state as I begin to discuss the most recent collection of works from H. J. Lee Bennett, III – N Search of H.E.R.

I’ve been a longtime fan of Mr. Bennett, III (AKA Lee The Poet), following his work as he head of IllPoets.com. A mainstay during the late 90’s – early 2000’s DC spoken word scene, Lee could often be found at an open mic or poetry slam riffing on the ills of relationships or the attitudes of his students. While time has passed, Lee has taken a step back from the stage and embraced the page in a way that is both shocking and familiar to me – Lee has been on a quest to better understand love.

“N Search of H.E.R.” opens with Lee acknowledging his old beliefs; that life would be the nuclear family fantasy, made perfect by a wife and children. Following the forward, he spends the better half of N Search of H.E.R. deconstructing that concept through poetry and prose. Often when reading a collection of love poetry, you are met with simple similes, contrived clichés, and unwelcome descriptions of sexual conquest. Lee does his best to steer clear of what is expected; pepper poignant prose throughout a feast of meaty poetry.

“Life is an amazing race
And I humbly submit
The most common pitfall we all encounter
Is the notion that we have to keep pace with someone other than who greets us
in the mirror each morning”
                           – Lee the Poet “The Amazing Race”

In his poetry, Lee tackles heavy concepts like marriage and fidelity, self-esteem, and suicide; often using rhyme to make the work more palatable. Having seen Lee perform in the past, I can almost hear his voice in the cadence of “Song Beyond Sorrow” and “Soul Mates”. His management of syntax in “When She Smiles” literally made me smile. I could see the innocence – and flirtatious lack of – in every word and line break.
While the poetry is great, for me personally, Lee’s prose is the star of the show. Imagine footnotes for a person rediscovering love. Every few pages you are greeted by a 1-3 line blurb of discovery.

“F***ing you is like the splendor of a good cub of coffee and a cigarette –
Addictive, deliciously dirty, and self indulgent, yet utterly self destructive.”
                     – Lee The Poet “Coffee & Cigarettes”
“I‘ve apologized for everything, except for what drove you away”
                            – Lee The Poet “Meaningless Apologies”

Ultimately, “N Search of H.E.R.” is a trail of breadcrumbs left by Lee as he found his definition of love. As a lover of poetry and a lover of love, I highly recommend this book to anyone in the midst of their own personal journey, or hoping to get a man’s perspective on relationships. I look forward to continuing to follow Lee’s work as I continue on my personal journey.

Purchase “N Search of H.E.R.” on amazon here.

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