Laughter in the Walls by Bob Benson

Copyright 1969, reissued 1996
Checked out twice in 14 years (assuming it was acquired at the time of publication)
Last checked out 3 years ago

[A Note Many Months After Original Posting: Much to my surprise, this is one of the most regularly searched-for books among those I have reviewed. Please make a comment letting me know where you first heard of Bob Benson and Laughter in the Walls.]

This book is the result of what is known as vanity publishing. It was done by friends and family of the poet. However, unlike most vanity published books, it’s beautifully done with illustrations by the poet’s daughter. The poems read like mini-essays, but I’m not going to fault them too much for that. They also rely too heavily on lists, such as:

the crisp nights,
the clear mornings,
the football games,
the chrysanthemums–

But for all their faults they’re likable, readable poems all centered around the family and right-living according to the Bible. On these three things alone (readable, family, Bible), I think this book belongs in the Albertville library. There’s a good deal of humor here too. Here’s one of my favorites from “Multiple Me’s:”

But then there are times
where there are
just too many of me.
One of those times
is when I pray.
If only Bob the sincere,
the quiet,
the desirer of holy things
could make his way alone
to the place of prayer
and make his petitions known,
and there find
the power and poise
his heart must have.

But every time he goes to pray,
a whole multitude of me
comes trooping along–
Bob the impatient,
Bob the referee heckler,
Bob the unconcerned . . .

It’s impossible not to like Bob even just sampling this book as I did. It’s a great book for parents. So I call it a keeper for the Albertville Public Library.

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About jppoetryreader

Poetry reviewer and poetry consultant for libraries
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7 Responses to Laughter in the Walls by Bob Benson

  1. MRW Morgan says:

    I first heard about Bob Benson from our pastor and his wife in the 80’s, and shared some of his wisdom. When I found “Laughter in the Walls” at a Christian bookstore, I was thrilled. This was before we had children, but I loved it anyway–especially “Parental Math”. He has a way of using familiar life experiences that help me feel God’s heart for me. Thank you for this post!

  2. Thanks for commenting and letting me know how you heard about him. I’m glad there are people keeping his poetry alive.

  3. Gail Weidenaar says:

    I love this book of poems, I gave it to my parents when they moved from our childhood home of 45 years for them. My Dad read them often and now my husband enjoys it as well.

  4. Thanks for sharing your family experiences with this lovely book, Gail.

  5. Holly says:

    I first heard an audio of Bob, speaking about there being ablessing in the breaking. The book… Listening to Focus On the Family radio program shortly after he died from cancer.

  6. Lora Cox says:

    I found Bob’s book, Come Share The Being way back in the 70’s I believe, in a second hand store and fell in love with his writing. I am now reading laughter in the walls, almost finished, and then I will be looking for more of his books. He was a wonderful man, never met him but can tell from his writting.

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