Reviewed by Alex Owens
Berkowitz’s first book is waves lapping against a shore, some are larger than others, more likely to sweep you off your feet, others a warm and calming rinse. Managing to pull at the heartstrings with distinct visuals and poignant emotion, it’s as though readers live in each page for a minute. The author, more an artist, crafts scenes in a way that is reminiscent of watching a 4K TV for the first time. Many will relate to the feelings of melancholy and nostalgia wrought by the memories of both time and places past as Berkowitz paddles alongside readers through the rapids and obstacles of reality. Bermuda Ferris Wheel truly delivers an adventure to all the beautiful places that you would never expect to be so beautiful.
This collection of poems takes you on a journey through the eyes of another, seeing what they see and feeling what they feel. I found many of these poems to be quite relatable despite never visiting any of the locales scattered throughout the pages. The Perfect Time to Walk out of Someone’s Life, starts with a line about West Virginia, but not actually West Virginia, just a place like it. The author sits and drinks, contemplating past wrongs, wondering what could have been, eventually coming to the conclusion, “Maybe it’s easier to know what love isn’t.” Crafting such an intimate experience is key in delivering what I took to be the goal of introspection and pondering, remembering what has been and what has changed, moving on and growing up. One of my favorite themes tackled is that of addiction and its heredity. Alcohol and other vices become associated with the memories and feelings of the author. Berkowitz carefully chooses when and what to reveal as the curtains are slowly pulled back on the past throughout reading.
Intimate is another good word to describe the poems within Bermuda Ferris Wheel. It is as though you are getting to know someone by flipping through it’s pages. Sometimes its small bits of wisdom that sound like they come from generations past or comforting thoughts that a father whispers to his son, in The Irrationality of Anger, “You said, Ten hours from now this will all be a distant memory of pain.” These moments are my favorites in the book, and they can be found on nearly every page. This is a credit to the author, whose word choice is spot-on to capture many of the sights, sounds, and emotions that they want readers to feel.
Masterfully crafted and intentionally raw, Bryce Berkowitz first title is everything you look for in a debut. While I could list some of my favorite poems, it would just eat up the page with how long the list is. There is something for everyone to be found in Bermuda Ferris Wheel. It is one of those books where you can choose to walk away with a little, finish it, smile, and take a deep breath before setting it back on your nightstand. Or you can take some time and really connect with the emotions, the thoughts, the feelings, and maybe grow a little alongside the author, and ride the river with another.
“Whatever it is that he can’t give you, can you live without it?
At home in a dark bar, haunted by cravings
I wait for you
The door is always open,
though closure has yet to arrive.”
-from “Sunnyside and Claremont, Chicago”