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Written by Matthew Shenoda
In Bennie Herron’s word to the mother the reader is introduced to a world full of rhythm-memories and throwbacks. Thick with the reminiscence of childhood wonder and a deep yearning to honor both the living and the dead, the poems found here mark a life steeped in struggle and a desire to make whole the pieces that shape our lives. In each of Herron’s poems there is always music; an unarticulated and unquestioned understanding that if we follow the music of memory and trace the cadences that shape our lives we will eventually find a way towards home. As Herron writes, “i want rhythm for my flesh and a flesh for my rhythm.” But the music found here is not just a soundtrack for memories, but a key towards greater understanding, a way to both unlock and forge anew. In a refreshing turn from the often self-involved and saturated selfishness that defines so many in America, the poems here, though deeply personal, always honor an ever-present past. Herron’s “self” is only understood by way of inter-generational recognition and an ancestral antecedent that is always at work to make sense of the present self. Even in the toughest moments, Herron recognizes, without judgement, the sacrifices of a mother and the imperfect love that makes a family. As he writes: it was a gathering of history born in moments meant only to be borne by experience we owned our humanity this day we walked slow chest heaving a pulse away from our unfounded fathers elders gathered a drummers hand said it all as mothers matured before our eyes we submerged gathered at the edge of destiny’s manifest we crossed over bore breath deep memories leaving pain for dead in every exhale we came loose from over the hills worn down by time we traveled like veins in and out of ourselves until one million became one It is that one million becoming one, that insistence on seeing the parts that make a whole, the journey that makes a place, that resonate so deeply in Herron’s work and remind us that we are here through the struggle of those who came before us. Herron’s poems move through an understanding of family that teaches us that each day we are granted is a day made manifest by the works of another. From the trans Atlantic slave trade to the nuances of a Black life in a west coast America, it is the millions that make the one and the rhythms, even when painful, that make Herron’s poems sing. word to the mother is both an honest homage from a son to his mother and a recognition that we are all born from labor and it is labor we will carry on.
Bennie Herron was born in San Diego, CA to a blue-collar family, he had a challenging but fulfilling childhood rooted in unconditional love. His childhood was full of stories that are the undercurrent of his writing and social advocacy. This also laid the foundation for his interest in social work and academic prosperity. He always knew and believed that one way he could transcend negative circumstances was with education. This allowed him to be a part of the solution regarding issues that plagued his community and the world alike. Bennie Herron has performed in venues across the United States and Mexico. In 2012 his first full length poetry collection titled, “greens”, was published on the Tintavox Independent Press, San Fransisco, CA. He currently is the Father Engagement Specialist with Fairfax County’s Children Youth and Family, where he facilitates trainings and classes for fathers and partner agencies in the Northern Virginia area. He lives by one simple quote, “life frames what the heart paints.”