The Study of Human Life


Product Details

$20.00  $18.60
Penguin Books
Publish Date
5.9 X 9.1 X 0.5 inches | 0.4 pounds

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About the Author

Poet, performer, and scholar Joshua Bennett is the author of three collections of poetry: The Study of Human Life, Owed, and The Sobbing School; a book of criticism, Being Property Once Myself: Blackness and the End of Man; and a work of narrative nonfiction, Spoken Word: A Cultural History. He received his PhD in English from Princeton University, and is currently Professor of Literature and Distinguished Chair of the Humanities at MIT. His writing has been published in The New York Times Magazine, The Paris Review, Poetry, and elsewhere. In 2021, he was the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship and a Whiting Award in Poetry and Nonfiction. He lives in Boston.


Praise for The Study of Human Life

"A tender celebration of vulnerability and the strength that blooms quietly in its presence." --The Atlantic, "Ten Poetry Collections to Read Again and Again"

"With a singularly expansive and compassionate view of history, Bennett sweeps across generations of joy, suffering, and connection." --Lit Hub

"A unique and nuanced window into the effects of generational trauma and state-sanctioned violence, as well as powerful insistence that trauma cannot and will not be the defining characteristic of future generations . . . The Study of Human Life is every bit as layered and complex as readers might expect from Bennett, who has established himself as an intensely patient and deliberate writer capable of upending genre as seamlessly as he upends our understanding of the world." --The Poetry Question

"[Features] a multifaceted prose-poem of striking depth and originality . . . Though Bennett's poems seem effortless in their lyric grace and organic progressions, they are better described as effortful, given memorable presence by their intimacy, mindful craft, and visionary pursuit. Expect this work to appear on many 'best poetry' lists for 2022." --Library Journal (starred review)

Praise for Bennett's previous collection, Owed

"Themes of praise and debt pervade this rhapsodic, rigorous poetry collection, which pays homage to everyday Black experience in the U.S. . . . Bennett conjures a spirit of kinship that, illuminated by redolent imagery, borders on mythic, and boldly stakes claim to 'some living, future / English, & everyone in it / is immortal.'" --The New Yorker

"Bennett captures the beauty of what really matters in life--the memories, youth sports, family traditions and little moments that many of us take for granted . . . [Owed] couldn't have been more timely." --Salon

"Not only are these poems eloquent but also lyrical, intelligent, and, occasionally, funny. Most reflect upon and communicate the pain, joy, and intensity of the current Black experience . . . In a time when many confront and protest the racism prevalent in our society, Bennett's new book is vital." --Library Journal (starred review)

"[Owed] intertwines the author's multifaceted professions as poet, performer, and professor through powerful, crisp poems that celebrate the complexity, joy, and heartbreak of the Black experience in America . . . Bennett's poems are more necessary than ever." --Publishers Weekly (starred review)