October 21, 2019

Extremely grateful to have been awarded a James Merrill Fellowship to attend the Vermont Studio Center in 2020. I've been applying for over a decade, so this is a dream come true for me - also, it'll be something of a homecoming to VT, where I grew up. 

While on tour this summer, Rodrigo Toscano interviewed me via email for Big Other Magazine - check it out here. Rodrigo is one of the most electrifying performers I've ever seen, so it was a real pleasure - check out his work as well, he just released In Range (Counterpoint, 2019) and his Collapsible Poetics Theatre won the 2008 National Poetry Series; he's been included in Best American Poetry as well. 

Here's a link to our conversation, for Big Other mag.

The Words & Music Festival and Peauxdunque Review recently announced the winners of their annual writing competition, and Nathaniel Rich selected the first chapter of my novel manuscript POET FOR HIRE as the winner of the nonfiction prize - it's $1000, a feature reading at the Ace Hotel...

August 24, 2019

This summer's tour culminated with two weeks in Vermont, for my second appearance at the Bookstock literary festival (along with some of my heros: Ocean Vuong, Carolyn Forché, Ilya Kaminsky, Vievee Francis & Matthew Olzmann, among others) and a reading at the Lamp Shop in Burlington. It was a fitting way to end the worldwind 3 months which took me and my girlfriend, Skye Jackson, through the Southwest of the U.S. and then all the way to Paris and back; Burlington is where I came of age. I had grown up in between a donkey farm and a cow pasture on Route 103 in Rutland County, and by the time I turned 20, the irresistible gravity of the thriving Burlington art scene two hours north had pulled me in, plunging me into one of the most sincerely eccentric, relentlessly creative environments I've ever had the luck to witness. 

Recently I came across the feature article I wrote for the Burlington Free Press's cover story about that Old North End scene, while I was artis...

May 5, 2019

This Spring, a few magazines are publishing my work, so here's a roundup of recent and forthcoming publications:

Powder Keg Magazine's final issue features a few of my favorite poems - 'Washington Sq Park', 'Infidels' Sestina', and 'Telegram to Suicidal Friend', including the audio version of one of them. Bianca Stone, who I recently met at her stellar reading during the New Orleans Poetry Festival, is also included, which is a real honor, and I'm looking forward to checking out the other contributors as well. (The festival, by the way, was super rad. This year I was on a panel called 'Apocalypse Lovers: Co-Conceiving Our Own Demise' about reckoning with our reckoning through poetry, along with Dylan Krieger, of heady NYT fame, Clare Welsh, a good friend and fantastic photographer, and Daiquiri Rene Jones, the Orpheus of New Orleans, who bikes around town with an angel's harp over his shoulder, which he uses to improvise dreamy story-poems).

Entropy published 3 of my typewriter visual-po...

March 8, 2019

In lieu of an extremely tardy Part 2 in this blog series about my 2018 tour, here's the unexpurgated version of my rambling interview with Robert Greer at London Magazine, who recently ran a shorter version, along with several of my poems in their fall 2018 issue. Many thanks to Rob for setting this up, who I met several years ago while I was sleeping on the floor of Desperate Literature bookshop, in Madrid.

(Originally published Sep. 4, 2018)

Robert Greer

A question most writers are asked is “What led you to writing?”, and while I am also interested in hearing about that – I have a sneaking suspicion that you have something of a multi-discipline background – I must ask how you found your form as a travelling troubadour poet.

Benjamin Aleshire

I sit in the street with a small folding table and chair and a sign that says POET FOR HIRE—then I smoke a cigarette and wait for some stranger to approach me with a poetic desire they need fulfilled. Maybe their girlfriend broke up with them, and the...

August 22, 2018

This summer, I spent 3 months on the road, touring to 11 cities in 5 countries in 2 hemispheres. The first leg took me up the East coast of the U.S. with a mysterious Chilean documentary filmmaker named Jordi Goya. We started filming in New Orleans in mid-May, and then hit the road in my green '93 Capri convertible, which I bought in Slidell for $1600 and a case of beer, and which Jordi promptly christened, 'El Verde'.

First stop: Asheville, North Carolina - a city I haven't been to since I used to tour with bands an eternity ago. The southern-hippy vibe is still alive and well there - here's one of my favorite customer photos, when I wrote a poem for the resident studmuffins of Asheville, about "Skipping class and eating ass," - a tongue-in-cheek field of study I happen to have some personal experience in.

After a couple days of filming at my sister's communard-farm in rural Virginia, we continued north to Philadelphia as the sky pissed down rain - a good time to confess to Jordi that t...

March 16, 2018

Last summer, while I was working in Washington Square Park in NYC, a woman with a German accent asked for, "Just a short poem, please." A few months later she contacted me for an interview with the magazine she works for, NEON - which seems to be the VICE of the German-speaking world, run by Stern, one of the largest media groups in Europe. At the time I was doing an art residency at BluSeed Studios in the Adironacks, and there wasn't enough internet access to Skype, but we managed to send eachother questions and answers over the next few months - including some inflammatory statements about how the Democratic Party is betraying the Left, etc etc.

The morning after returning to New Orleans just before Christmas, they sent a photographer to do a shoot in the French Quarter, who turned out to be Will Widmer, a real mensch who has shot for everybody from the New Yorker to Al Jazeera and the French GQ. A few days ago I finally got the print issue in the mail, and it's not available online,...

September 25, 2017

While on the road in Europe/USA this summer I've taken to using Instagram to tell stories and post photos and poems, almost daily. Follow me there at @Benjamin_aleshire for updates, details about readings, and occasionally some of my visual art - plus lots of bizarre tales from NYC, Paris, Hamburg, Berlin, Copenhagen, Vermont, and San Francisco.

This fall, though, I'm going off-grid to work on a novel called POET FOR HIRE, so I'll be taking a much-needed break from the digital realm. Wish me luck, and I'll see you on the other side...

Feel free to write to me at 'benaleshire at gmail dot com', and I'll get back to you as soon as I can, perhaps as late as early-December.


July 14, 2017

I've been dreadful at blogging regularly...so for now here's an unexpurgated version of an interview I did with Nyles Pierrelouis, which is currently up at the Hamline University Lit Link.

How did you decide you wanted to go out and perform on the street?

I’ve been writing poems for strangers in the street for over five years now, but I’ve been performing in the street (busking) since I was a teenager, when I toured with a choral group and we sang in the street to pick up a little extra cash in between gigs at churches. Then, throughout my early/mid-twenties I toured with various bands as a trumpet player, and busking often earned us more money than playing in bars or clubs. There’s a magic inherent in putting your art in front of strangers; it puts you into contact with entirely different strata of society. By that I mean, when I toured with a weirdo Americana band, most of our friends and contacts were other musicians or artists, who were just as broke and unemployed as us—so the peo...

March 23, 2017

In the Ayuntamiento offices she spells my name into the phone with the call letters of cities and nations. “Aleshire: Almería, Lugo, España, Sevilla, Huelva, Italia, Roma, España. How long will you be here in Granada?”

         “Just two more days,” I lie and she shrugs, hangs up the phone and immediately stamps my document with a seal and signs it. The Spaniards are fond of stamps.

         I thank her and fold my new poetic license carefully into thirds, tuck it in the breast pocket of my suit just over my heart, and walk back outside through the open courtyard's mosaic of over-grown cobblestones. Past the Nativity and the crowd banging tambourines and guitars, bellowing Christmas songs. Are they drunk? I can't believe this is City Hall, which until now I've only associated with vague bureaucratic horror.

         Past the Moorish prince tucked in a nave in a corner of the courtyard, his body shimmering in gold satin....

December 19, 2016

For the first time, one of my poems was returned to me.

Today in the mail, a big brown package arrives, plastered with stamps. Any package plastered with stamps is a subtle form of aesthetic justice—since in this digital era we live in, at the Post Office a computer will print a soulless bar-code sticker unless you specifically insist on using stamps, and then flip through their book of choices hurriedly while everyone waiting in line silently resents you for wasting 45 seconds of their lives for the sake of beauty. How positively American.

Sitting on my bed and staring at the unopened package, the stamps teleport me back to a sun-spilt day 10 years ago, when I was a teenager falling in and out of love in Denmark, of all places, and I wandered alone into the Copenhagen post office to try to send a postcard. The experience must have taken an entire holy hour. Everyone in the building moved slow as cold honey. I stood gaping at the ornate ceiling flooded with light for a full five minutes...

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