Creative Writing

A Box of Longing with Fifty Drawers by Jen Benka

A Box of Longing with Fifty Drawers by Jen Benka, graduate, MFA in Creative Writing at The New School

1330834Soft Skull, 2005 Benka takes us on a re-imagining that cuts through the psychic landscape of America and explores the United States as a “a box of longing with fifty drawers.” She delves not so much into the growing cynicism of Americans as to the deep bewilderment and sadness of us. She asks the deepening question of what is happening to core values such as economic justice, civil rights, a humane foreign policy, freedom and a decent life for everyone — and below that, what is happening to the individual psyches within a nation that has lost faith in itself.

Working at a homeless shelter, as an organizer for the National Abortion Rights Action League-Wisc., and at 9to5 National Association of Working Women, Jen Benka’s political work has informed and infused her poems. Combining poetry and politics, she co-organized a major reading in protest of the occupation of Iraq during the 2004 Republican National Convention in New York City. She has published poems in The ProgressiveMs. MagazineLa Petite ZineFailbetterUnpleasant Events ScheduleTarapulin Sky (forthcoming), So to Speak, and Off Our Backs, and was the recipient of a poetry fellowship from the Wisconsin Arts Board. Benka has performed her poetry and music at the Nuyorican Poets Café, Brooklyn Lyceum, Bowery Poetry Club, and on NPR’s World Café. She is also the author of the award-winning indy comic book Manya.

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