On February 24th, 2015, Benjamin Grossberg paid a visit to the University of Connecticut Co-Op bookstore to read some of his work and answer some questions for his audience about his writing and editing life.
Grossberg, an Assistant poetry editor and book reviewer for the Antioch, has published many pieces in other review magazines and is currently a professor at the University of Hartford, teaching English and holding a position as the Director of Creative Writing.
I took particular interest in his collection of poetry, Space Traveler: which sees our world through the eyes of an alien traveler, witnessing and documenting what goes on around our planet.
Grossberg admitted to not knowing much about science but still wrote about it anyway. I’ve learned through Grossberg that being attentive to NPR can help some writers a LOT if they take great interest in the topics. When talking about aliens and how they view our world from an outside perspective…I really started to wonder if the central idea of Grossberg’s work is people from the outside looking in to American culture. My favorite poem from his collection is “The Space Traveler Sex,” which I would like to bring some attention to.
The language of this piece was far more interesting than others (although, I really liked the poem about tenses). A part that stands out the most: “You’ve been wondering, / I know, about alien sex. / Though of course all sex is alien…” (Grossberg). Throughout the entire series of poems, the space traveler speaks to us, his audience, about the different ideas and concepts he sees and wants his audience to know. The idea that sex is universal is my favorite part but I started to question: why is he bringing up that all sex is alien? What makes sex alien?
Recently, the 50 Shades of Grey film has shown viewers what BDSM culture is like. Some of the viewers don’t know or understand what BDSM culture entails and it seems to give one interpretation of what it is (and if you want a funny interpretation, watch The Try Guys…they’re great!). I use this as an example of “alien” sex. Something we do not know of but still exists; something we may not partake in but is still out there. Grossberg points out that this alien creature is well aware of what sex is and even though humans see it as “alien,” they do not realize that “alien sex” is just something we don’t know about.
So, think about it: sex can be alien without an alien literally taking part in sexual intercourse. Grossberg highlights that not everyone shares the same sexual desire and that everyone is different when it comes to sexual intercourse. He shows his readers that together: “we need and find and lose, and need and find” (Grossberg).