Benjamin Alfaro is a writer, educator, and organizer from Michigan. He is a 2017 Kresge Arts Fellow and his poems have most recently appeared (or are forthcoming) in TriQuarterly, Southern Indiana Review, Michigan Quarterly Review, Duende, and Blood Orange Review. He has been featured on HBO, Yahoo!, VICE, and NPR. His work with InsideOut Literary Arts helped launch the Detroit Youth Poet Laureate program and Louder Than a Bomb: The Michigan Youth Poetry Festival. As an undergraduate student, he founded WayneSLAM on the campus of Wayne State University. He is currently a graduate student at University of Minnesota and serves as the Development & Special Projects Assistant at Hallie Q. Brown Community Center, a social service agency that provides basic needs, education, and community services. He lives in Minneapolis.
My poems are driven by working-class American portraiture. Themes of masculinity, class, heritage, and violence are central in my work because these are the challenges I spend the most energy trying to understand. As a young man, I looked toward poetry as a tool to navigate the fray. The narratives I explore populate the block and hope to serve as primary text for everyday experiences. My work is guided by the urgency of this historical moment and is informed by the rapid physical and cultural changes impacting the lives around me. As buildings can disappear, so too can stories; my work seeks to document the complicated nature of these changes. Much of my work is lyrical in nature; I am enamored by the sound of language and my poetics aim toward musicality as a constructive tenet. I want my poems to make the reader’s head nod; I want to create a congregation out of thin air.
Photo by Nick Hagen / Model D Media
Photo by Urban Word NYC / Pre-Emptive Education Conference (2016)
Photo by Doug Coombe / MC Olympics / Assemble Sound
Photo by Nichole Christian / Frederick Douglass Academy
Photo by Doug Coombe / Louder Than a Bomb 2017