D. Benigno full review

There is something refreshingly ominous in the modern voices of today’s spoken word. Thoughts are performed now, as they have always been with a fire behind them, blazing with the impatience and immediacy of a new idea. In a single sentence there are whole universes. Audrey Dimola and her newest installment, Traversals, reminds us of that.

The jungle, as is fitting, is New York City, mainly the stormy roads of Queens and its beaches. The first time I read this volume I was on the Rockaway shore and couldn’t shake the feeling I was being watched. The volume is divided into sections, garnished with the quotes of those we’ve always admired, or perhaps should. They are like stops on a train or a steamship, beginning with a dream, a plan, an argument, a divide, and ending, and the inevitable grief of a shattered connection. The ego cannot help but hate what it cannot forget. Traversals is one woman’s practice, a carving into stone of the person she wants to be, and through the release of this collection, now is. As a word nerd, that’s when you know you’re reading something real, something true. Her poems read almost like premonitions, jotted in journals on buses and trains of pain and strength to come. Each poem reads like an invocation.

So many memories, collective memories ink her pages. Her poems beg to be seen, bursting with questions to an omniscient source she cannot help but believe in, being in love. In her cries, we find the answers to our lonely prayers. For anyone who enjoys listening to the written word, solitude is sacred. Traversals is a testament of firsts. It is about the loss of a young woman’s past self through the love of another, which is the true tragedy of growing up. Still waters run deep, and we get a peek into the personality of the author as someone acutely observant of the world around her. There is beauty in her transformation into a woman who cannot be ignored. The flame burns as her words (“moments—isn’t it always/ what I come back to?/ And—is it just as often/ implicit/ that we must/ leave them all/ behind?”) sting. One can imagine the pauses in her delivery, the answer in so simple a question.

If you look closely, you may find a mantra or two to soothe a weary day or cause a hidden anniversary to be less regretful. Audrey’s prose is akin to a late night red wine binge with a good friend. No judgment, and no excess sugar either. Traversals is sweet enough as it is, and can be read straight through or in 3 stop spurts. It is the mirror of a changing city and a changing soul, ambient and pure—a phoenix breaking free, and encouraging us all to do the same.

Why do we read poetry? More than mental masturbation or, (more elegantly) a sweet escape we listen to make sense out of our chaos without fearing it. To be a poet is to be brave enough to tread trough the darkest forest of the subconscious. It is a solemn promise to search for truth through emotion, translated then by the fickle and judgmental mind. As Dorothy Parker once said: “I hate writing. I love having written.” Occasionally a poet comes along with a rhythm in their soul that echoes that of an entire city, a blaring staccato that slices through cement like torrents, hugging and cracking the earth. Audrey’s words cut. Talk about a poet in the wild.

-Diana Benigno

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