Poet reads literary pieces from new book on love
Terry Benczik’s book “New Love Poems” published in 2013. Since then, she has received feedback from all around the world.
“There’s a man from Israel posting about my poems, a man from Japan tells me he reads them with his wife,” Benczik said. “There’s a man who lives on a boat off the coast of Africa who’s emailing me.”
Benczik began her discussion at Barnes & Noble on Somerset Street last night by explaining the title of her book.
“Some people look at life like it’s either about love or about fear, and I thought, ‘new fear poems’ didn’t have as good a ring to it,” Benczik said.
Benczik read her book of poems about love, including the discovery of self-love, romantic love, love of humanity, divine love and even poems about death.
Benczik, who started to write at an early age, knew she wanted to pursue this hobby her entire life. She began writing poetry in junior high school and pursued a career in journalism after college, she said.
“I always wanted to be involved in writing,” she said. “I was a professional writer, writing for … news … at CBS, but everyone who was writing for the news was a 50-year-old man, and I thought, ‘someday I’ll be 50, but never a man.’”
Benczik said she was the fifth female to write for CBS New York when she started working for the company, but it was not long before she left her job as a news writer to go into government service.
Regardless of Benczik’s profession, she never stopped writing. In 2012, she was nearly ready to publish her work, but two unexpected obstacles delayed her goal.
She worked with a literary agent who loved her book but told her the economy was too bad to support the publication of a poetry book. Along with this hurdle, in February of that year, Benczik learned that she had lung cancer.
In light of this news, she spent time thinking about her goals even more.
“I said ‘well, what’s on my bucket list?’ and you know, I had surgery, I had chemotherapy and I had radiation, at that point … I thought, ‘what can I do?’” she said. “I’ve been told my poems have been healing for people, so … that’s what I had to do.”
Her sister, Diane Benczik, witnessed Terry Benczik experiencing this hard time and understood the universality of her poems.
“I think a lot of people can relate to the emotions, even if you don’t like poetry,” Diane Benczik said.
She continued to work on her book when she was able to regardless of the struggles she faced dealing with lung cancer. Even though Terry Benczik’s diagnosis was unfortunate, she never resented what had happened to her.
“When I was sick I felt lucky all the time,” she said. “I live in a country with the best doctors, I was very cared for. This whole journey of love, it sort of completed itself when I was so sick.”
With attention from many different areas around the world, she also received feedback from Rutgers University students. Lily Lee, a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore, attended the reading last night and said she is a fan of Terry Benczik.
“She was so expressive,” Lee said. “The way she read it, in her soothing tone and the way she emphasized the poem when she read, I really could escape into the words.”
Benczik said one of the key themes, among the theme of happiness, is hope. She said because of these themes, she closes her book with one of her favorite poems titled “Ecstasy.”
“It’s basically saying ‘if you know, really know, … that the fact that you’re here is a miracle,” she said. “You realize this great miracle, this miracle of love, then you could be in ecstasy all the time.”