BENJAMIN ALESHIRE grew up in rural Vermont, and spent most of the past decade based in New Orleans, making a living as a poet-for-hire with a manual typewriter and touring widely. His poetry and essays have been published in The Times of London, Southern Review, Boston Review, Iowa Review, Lit Hub, and elsewhere. Ben received a James Merrill fellowship from the VT Studio Center, a waiter-scholarship from the Bread Loaf (where he was a member of the infamous "Waiter Rebellion" of 2016); a Creation Grant from the VT Arts Council, and a Goldwater Fellowship from New York University.
To book Aleshire for private events, festivals, etc, contact his events agent Lisa Giordano here. Previous clients include Princeton University, the House of Yes, Bernie Sanders, The Bellagio Las Vegas, Shakespeare & Co in Paris, the Troubadour London, Sir Tom Stoppard, and Jimmy Page.
An excerpt of his novel-in-progress, POET FOR HIRE, was published at Lit Hub. The first chapter was selected by Nathaniel Rich as the winner of the 2019 Words & Music Prize, and the full manuscript was chosen by Andrei Codrescu as runner-up for the 2019 Faulkner-Wisdom Prize. He is currently seeking representation.
His work as a poet and musician has been featured in El Mundo, (Spain,) NEON Magazin (Germany), The Havana Times (Cuba), La Repubblica (Italy), NPR Boston, SPIN, and USA Today. In 2018, The Times of London broke with 233 years of their editorial history to invite Aleshire to contribute a poem for the first time as a leading article. "Summer Violence" appeared in conjunction with a Page 3 feature article, published during his stint as a poet-for-hire at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Other work has appeared or is forthcoming in Southern Review, Iowa Review, Boston Review, North American Review, Los Angeles Review, Adroit, Meridian, DIAGRAM, Crab Orchard Review, Poetry East, Rattle, Cortland Review, London Magazine, Green Mountains Review, Barrow Street, and others.
As the founding editor and publisher of Honeybee Press (2009-2015) Aleshire's letterpress broadsides and books have been acquired by the Special Collections of Yale University, the University of Vermont, and St. Lawrence University. He was awarded a Creation Grant from the Vermont Arts Council, as well as the Chighizola Poetry Prize from the University of New Orleans. Currently Ben serves as a freelance book reviewer for Seven Days newspaper, as poetry co-editor for Brazenhead Review in NYC, and as a contributing editor for the Green Mountains Review.
A first-gen student, Ben graduated with a B.A. in Romance Languages from the University of New Orleans, at the age of 33. This May he will graduate from NYU's Creative Writing Program with a Master's degree in Nonfiction.
Throughout his twenties, Aleshire participated in a number of resolutely non-institutional artistic projects that spanned traditional film photography, letterpress and bookbinding, performance art, political graffiti, circus, burlesque, playwriting, choral music, and jazz trumpet.
In 2006 he toured the Republic of Georgia as a chorus member with Village Harmony; in 2008 he lived and worked at Bread & Puppet as an apprentice puppeteer, building puppets with Peter Schumann and performing every Sunday in the Sourdough Philosophy Circus; also in 2008 he flew to Panama to join the crew of the Absolute Absolution, a catamaran which the legendary Poppa Neutrino intended to sail to Cuba with a group of artists from the Burlington bohemian art scene. The voyage was a disaster, and Aleshire two other crew members fled in order to join the Cabaret Capricho on tour, a Mexican circus who had been touring through Latin American at the time.
Aleshire's one-act play, 'Gauvain the Good Knight', about his experiences working on pot farms in Northern California won the 2009 Nor'Easter Playwright Contest and was performed as a reading at the Paramount Theatre in Rutland VT. Also in 2009 Aleshire co-produced a sold-out underground theatre festival at the BoneTown Theatre, with performances by Hadestown creator Anais Mitchell.
In 2010 he lived with the Aesthesians, an eccentric philosophy commune in Burlington. Another short play by Aleshire, 'Any Day Now' was produced for the Burlington Fringe Festival in 2011 at the Off Center Theater. For several years in Burlington, Aleshire performed as an actor, clown, and musician with the burlesque show, Spielpalast Cabaret; In 2013 he lived in the dressing room of the Mudlark Theater in New Orleans, performing in Pandora Gastelum's shows and marching with the underground Mardi Gras krewe, Eris. Also at this time, Aleshire worked informally as an archivist for poet Dave Brinks, who had acquired a trunk of unpublished manuscripts from the mid-1950s written by Beat Generation figures such as Allen Ginsberg and Diane DiPrima, including an early draft of Burrough's The Naked Lunch.
From 2008-2014 Aleshire was a member of the band Vermont Joy Parade, on trumpet and vocals, including several national tours in a full-size bus converted to run on used fry grease from restaurants; VJP recorded 3 albums, performed live on NPR-Boston and at the Bonaroo Festival in 2008 and 2009, and toured sold-out stadiums in Europe as an opening act for Jared Leto's band 30 Seconds to Mars, after Leto happened upon them busking at a Berlin fleamarket and invited them on tour.
Ben has worked as a photographer in 35mm and 120 film for many years, as a member of Green Door Studio, where he also learned papermaking with Drew Cameron and Drew Mattot of the Combat Paper Project and the Peace Paper Project—and as a member of the United Bakery Gallery collective, which operated as a speakeasy venue in a quasi-derelict building. Aleshire has bodies of work shot in the Republic of Georgia, Central America, Europe, and across the US, which have been exhibited at numerous solo and group shows, including the Prospect 3 Biennial in New Orleans. In 2012, his solo exhibit 'Slow Art' ran at the BCA Center in Burlington VT in conjunction with his 3-month residency there. Recently, Ben has expanded to digital as well, and is available for portrait commissions, music/live events, weddings, maternity, boudoir, and fashion. During the summer of 2022, he was selected as artist-in-residence at the Generator, where he innovated a process of creating large-scale cyanotype portraits on muslin, linen, and cotton, stretching them like paintings, which he exhibited there at Art Hop, in the show, "Cyanotypical".
In 2023, a solo show of his latest cyanotypes work will be on view at Waterbury Studios in Vermont, June through August.