I love it when writers get out and promote their art. Why not? We are our biggest fan. So, here we have Jared Benjamin who knows how to do it.
He’s out there promoting his new book.
Jared also has his alter ego JB Stone helping him, too.
That’s like two people…right? Okay. Maybe not.
I’ve seen Jared in action and he knows how to rock an audience.
MCL: When did you start writing?
JB: I’ve been writing since high school but I feel I never really got as serious about it until Junior year of college.
MCL: Why is Poetry important to you?
JB: Maybe this answer might be a bit trite, possibly cliché, but everything is poetry. Walking downtown Buffalo is poetry. A Facebook post from Justin Karcher about walking downtown Buffalo is poetry. A tweet from Rachelle Toarmino is poetry! Cherry blossom trees are poetry. Mutual aid networks are poetry. Learning to love one’s body for the playground it is, is poetry. Going to see your friend’s punk band rock the hell out at a dingy, yet lively house show is poetry. Going to your local theatrical production is poetry. Watching the Buffalo Bills vs. Kansas City Chief’s game last season was AND still is poetry. Birds, puppies, cats, weevils, spiders, bats, babies, smiling children, a line-up of homeless people outside the local food pantry, a whole crowd of protestors holding up signs against a city wreath in police brutality, all can lay claim to call themselves poetry. The sun shining after a brutal winter and an unpredictable spring is poetry. Motherhood is poetry. Fatherhood is poetry. Childhood is poetry. Climate Change is poetry. War is poetry. The best of times are poetry just as much as the worst of times are poetry. My friends and family are poetry. When poetry encompasses so much, it’s hard for me to ignore its importance. Maybe that’s why it’s important because it’s more than just a school of form, or a sort of beat and lyric, it’s that it can arise from practically everything.
MCL: How did it feel to share your first Poem with someone?
JB: I honestly don’t remember all the exact details, but I do remember it was back in my freshman year at Daemen College (Now Daemen University), where my school’s Multi-Cultural Association was putting on an open mic of music and poetry. Their guest of honor was a fellow Greek college, but also a man who would become an important friend of mind and an absolute mentor to me along with a few others (Brandon Williamson, L. Period McGraw, Eve Williams, Ben Brindise, Megan Kemple ), Marquis “Ten Thousand” Burton. When I saw him perform I knew slam would be the vehicle I wanted to operate into literature. Even all these years later three chapbooks out, sixty-plus publications under my mark, being the EIC of my own literary magazine, I still slam, it’s still a passion to compete in spoken word. All these years later I will be heading down to Louisville, KY for Southern Fried this June. However, after all of these years my feeling when I share a poem, whether it’s a competition/slam, a reading feature, or just even a simple open mic, remains the same, nervous and scared, but glad to have a space to turn poetry into a moment of catharsis.
MCL: Tell us how it felt the first time you performed at an open reading. The feedback?
JB: Umm… I think I did alright my first time, but I think it was sort-of like more/less, I surely have never gotten a jeer when I perform, but that’s the type of healthy environment a poetry reading crowd emulates.
MCL: How long after the first reading did you do your next one?
JB: Honestly with full time school and work, I didn’t really start reading or performing my poetry until a couple of years later
MCL: It’s nice to see you have a new chapbook. What are “fragmented poems”?
JB: Fragmented can mean a lot of things, especially in poetic form and structure. For me the form is used to tell the story. The whole idea is every poem is a smashed landscape of mosaic of pieces I’m just attempting to put back together. Experiences I’ve had such as toxic masculinity, experiences with alcoholism and addiction in my family, experiences with body dysmorphia, experiences as someone who has felt the brunt of stigmas that coincides with folks with Autism, ADHD, High Anxiety, and Depression.
MCL: What’s the name of the book? How did it come about? What does this book mean to you?
JB: Fireflies And Hand Grenades. It’s honestly been six years in the making of just trying to figure out what this work was going to be about, gritting my teeth and opening my own wounds. Succumbing to the fatigue of putting my trauma (the hand grenades) and my attempts at trying to find hope (the fireflies) into my writing.
MCL: You’ve also delivered into theater. Talk about it.
JB:I’ve been delivered! So I don’t just write poetry, in fact I have definitely been pivoting towards fiction as well. I also write book reviews, music reviews, and am trying to get my chops in Non-fiction. As for theater, I love playwriting and I’m exploring screenwriting (preferably for Television over Film). However, admittedly, playwriting has been one of the hardest forms of writing I have ventured! I have a few plays I am working on, and I am absolutely grateful to the wonderful folks over at Green Buffalo Productions who will be producing my first play as part of their Spooky Play festival in October.
MCL: How did you become a literary critic?
JB: For me a book review, or if anything writing a review in general is one of the biggest win-win forms of writing out there. I believe the first place I ever got a book review published was actually the first place I got a poem published in Occulum. Occulum is an awesome journal still going strong and has put out some super choice work out into the literary community over the years. My review was of Justin Karcher’s When Severed Ears Sing You Songs from a press that isn’t really around anymore.
MCL: Describe your Writing style?
JB: My style I think varies. I don’t believe anyone is bound to have one particular style. I would for poetics it’s a mix of experimental and slammy. performancelanguage. As for my fiction, I like to cross into as many genres and sorts of literary walks of life as I can, from a sci-fi I just finished about a grieving pet owner who tries to find solace in resurrecting an extinct species of elephant to a YA ecopunk Novella I’m working on inspired by a Twilight Zone episode, to a literary piece attempting to confront the unfortunate, but still prevalent shambles of Trump Country. My non-fiction style is still something I am honestly trying to figure out. In the end, a lot of my writing is sharing my thoughts and speaking my truths through that when I can’t figure out another way to or so.
MCL: Who is JBStone?
JB: I’ll admit that is something I still am trying to figure out haha.
MCL: Time to promote… What’s going on the rest of 2022?
JB: I have a flash fiction coming out at XRAY Literary Magazine in April, and my play I just mentioned coming out in October. Submitting to tons of more places come 2022, as well Variety Pack will be open for submissions for our seventh issue on April 30, 2022, and will close for submissions on June 15, 2022. We are definitely looking for more submissions and we are now accepting DRAMA submissions! We are looking for more dramas, flash fiction, nonfiction, reviews, interviews, poetry, and short fiction.
Also for anyone who hasn’t ordered their copy yet, here is a link to my chapbook over at bottlecap press: https://bottlecap.press/products/fireflies
FOR MORE ON JARED BENJAMIN AKA JBSTONE: