I am an avid lover of all things space, and of all things poetry. So, when the lovely people at Nymeria Publishing asked if I'd like to review an ARC of a new poetry collection centering around the gorgeous Ringed Planet, I couldn't say yes fast enough.
Saturn and Their Rings is a short collection of poems composed by Saturn Nicole, or S. N. Benenhaley. Having completed NaNoWriMo in 202, they decided that their next project would be poetry on both their Instagram page and in this themed collection. The poems are accompanied by watercolor illustrations of the planet that mirror Benenhaley's personal aesthetic wonderfully.
Benenhaley uses the image of Saturn to tell their story. They bring to mind the colossal scope of the planet and its moons, and how it interacts with the rest of the system yet stands so distant and aloof. Pulling scientific wording together with deeply emotional stories, Benenhaley is able to make Saturn into someone I want to know.
I think was struck me the most about this collection was how intensely personal it felt. Throughout the collection, I felt like I was speaking directly with a person, rather than reading static poetry. At times tense and sad, and at others celebrant and hopeful, I couldn't wait to read on.
In a later poem, Benenhaley writes,
"So you moved onto someone much simpler,
With less moons and a lesser gravitational pull...
Someone else will come around,
And discover my greatness again one day."
This hit home; it spoke to the part of me that was still a lonely girl looking for her place among her peers. It was the confidence I needed back then, that I've only just begun to feel, put into the beautiful image of a planet so vast and varied that it would take eons of exploration to fully unpack.
The entire collection felt this way. I could hear the loneliness in every line, but at the same time, I could see the hope and the determination to be recognized as more than just another piece in a system. I couldn't put it down until I'd read the whole thing, I was just that desperate to see what they had to say next.
Each poem highlights an aspect of feeling like too much, or too little, or as if you're constantly being seen from afar without anyone bothering to reach below the cloudline, and how that can lead to the development of your barriers. How it can force you to put up your walls, your rings, until they're all anyone sees. How you can long for someone to see Saturn for more than their rings.
Saturn and Their Rings does exactly what poetry is supposed to do, in my mind. It's a deeply touching, beautifully worded read that I'd happily recommend. I'm incredibly impressed by Benenhaley, and I know I'll be following their work from here on out. I can't wait to see what they come up with next.
Saturn and Their Rings is available from Nymeria Publishing directly (where you can order a signed copy!), Target, and Barnes and Noble as a paperback. You can find more information about the book here.