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writing

New Reviews & an Essay in Print

I have two reviews out now: I contended with Maggie Nelson’s On Freedom for Heavy Feather Review, which you can read here.

I reviewed Donald Antrim’s One Friday in April: A Story of Suicide and Survival, which is close to my heart and taught me quite a bit. You can read it in Colorado Review here.

I have an essay in print for under the gum tree‘s Spring 2022 issue. In 2016, I started struggling with an overactive bladder that was tied to the onset of a mental health crisis. I began this essay to try to understand what was happening to my body, and it was part of the reason I finally applied for an MFA program, which I will finish this year. This essay has been on a six-year journey to being published, and I’m still very proud of it and where it led me.

Finally, I started a Substack to share more frequent thoughts about music and the like. You can visit the general store to read about FKA twigs’ and Mitski’s latest albums. While you’re there, you might consider subscribing if you like what you find.

Categories
reading writing

Recent Writing

I had some writing published around the web (and one in print!) in the last few months:

I reviewed Hanif Abdurraqib’s A Little Devil in America: Notes in Praise of Black Performance for The Athenaeum Review. It appeared in their print issue and online here.

I reviewed Clint Smith’s How the Word is Passed: A Reckoning with the History of Slavery Across America for Porter House Review. It’s available online here.

Spoiler: both books were incredible.

I wrote about mental health and quitting my job last year for Lunch Ticket. Last semester, I served as the blog editor for the journal. We published ten blogs that I’m really proud of. I have incredible peers.

Finally, I wrote about my love of Kermit as a cowboy and reimagining Western masculinity in The Muppet Movie for Lunch Ticket‘s new series, Midnight Snack.

Categories
writing

Two New Reviews

I have two recent reviews out:

For Colorado Review, I wrote about Krys Malcolm Belc’s memoir, The Natural Mother of the Child (Counterpoint Press).

For Heavy Feather Review, I wrote about Claudia Rankine’s lyrical hybrid work, Just Us: An American Conversation (Graywolf Press), out this week in paperback.

Categories
writing

Review of Gina Nutt’s ‘Night Rooms’ in Heavy Feather

I reviewed Gina Nutt’s fantastic essay collection Night Rooms for Heavy Feather Review. You can read it here.

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Uncategorized

Some Writing Around the Web

I had a number of things published in the past few days around the web:

For the Lunch Ticket blog, I wrote about what it means to sit alone in my room listening to music and how it connected me to the wider world. You can read it here.

For Issue IV of Variety Pack, I wrote a review essay about some books that have helped me learn how to grieve in a nation that does not grieve well. I considered Marion Winik’s The Big Book of the Dead, alongside Camus’ The Plague, Jesmyn Ward’s Men We Reaped, and Joan Didion’s The Year of Magical Thinking.

For The Adroit Journal, I reviewed Melissa Valentine’s wonderful memoir The Names of All the Flowers, which has stayed with me since I read it last July.

Thanks to all of you who choose to read.

– Ben

Categories
reading writing

“Re-mystifying Language” in The Adroit Journal

One of my favorite memoirs published this year, E.J. Koh’s The Magical Language of Others, has stuck with me since I read it in May. I reviewed it for The Adroit Journal, which you can now read here.

I highly recommend this memoir of family, language, and loss.

Categories
reading

August Reads

August was a long month and great for staying in to read far and wide. I took advantage, though I am ready for cooler weather, only so that I can take the books outside for a change.

Categories
reading

July Reads

Hard to believe we’re in the second half of this very long year. In July, I went back to work and started semester reading for my MFA program. Both of those life changes slowed me back down to five books, as well as how much time each of these books demands (in a good way).

Categories
reading

June Reads

My monthly reading average jumped in June, including two by activist and abolitionist Angela Y. Davis, both of which I covered in my anti-racist reading series. I started my MFA at Antioch University, where the residency was on Zoom for ten consecutive days. Instead of slowing me down, I was happy to sit with a book in place of a screen at the end of each day, and I was especially happy to read the books discussed below.

Categories
reading

What to Read Next: Anti-Racism and Abolition

Since my last post on recommended books on racism, more Black Americans have been killed by and within racist institutions: Rayshard Brooks, Riah Milton, Dominique “Rem’Mie” Fells, and Robert Fuller, among others, should be alive today. I am a firm believer that white people should educate ourselves and reach out to educate other white Americans, and in that spirit I have been sharing what I have learned from books authored by Black writers. I encourage you to purchase the books from Black-owned bookstores and to not simply stop at reading the books, but to allow the books to compel you to action within your spheres of influence.

This week, I am recommending books on abolition. To be clear, I have not read books that specifically address defunding the police, but once the phrase came across my social media feed, I began to think back on what I’ve read about abolition, as well as sought out a few titles from my to-read shelf in order to think through this current moment.

I am seeking to educate myself on what it would take to attain an “abolition democracy,” the term W.E.B. Du Bois coined during America’s Reconstruction Era to argue that slavery would not truly be eradicated in the U.S. until institutions were put in place to genuinely incorporate Black Americans into the nation’s conception of democracy. I credit Angela Y. Davis with articulating this notion, and several of her books are described below. State, local, and federal funding must be invested in community solutions that address racism and other social ills (homophobia, transphobia, sexism, classism, and so on), and our current system of overfunding systems designed for punishment must change. I have arrived at this belief because of the books and resources listed below.