Benjamin Alfaro is a writer and educator from Detroit. He is a 2017 Kresge Artist Fellow and the co-author of Home Court (Red Beard Press, 2014). His work was included in The BreakBeat Poets: New American Poetry in the Age of Hip-Hop anthology and has work featured in many publications (click here to read some poems).
The grandson of Mexican and Italian immigrants, his work is concerned with working-class American portraiture. With a focus on everyday people in a contemporary world, his poems seek to represent a sense of both inquiry and celebration. Often, his work teases the boundaries of form and aesthetic. Palpable and enigmatic, his poetics seek a lyrical pulse as a constructive tenet.
In 2008, he was featured on the HBO Original Series Brave New Voices, which followed him on the road to Washington, D.C. for the Brave New Voices International Youth Poetry Slam Festival. Later that year, Benjamin released Cold Lunch, a chapbook of poems released through Neutral Zone’s publishing program. He has also shared his poems on Michigan Public Radio – both through its Detroit and Ann Arbor chapters. Most recently, his chapbook ¡Fantasma! was selected as the runner-up for the 2017 Button Poetry Chapbook Prize.
As an educator, Benjamin has spent the past decade teaching creative writing in Detroit Public School classrooms. An longtime writer with InsideOut Literary Arts Project, he has served teaching residencies at several public high schools in Detroit. Benjamin has also led the award-winning and longest-running youth writing workshop, Citywide Poets, in the historic Detroit Public Library since 2008. His workalso includes producing Louder Than a Bomb: The Michigan Youth Poetry Festival (LTAB), the largest youth poetry festival in Michigan, now in its sixth year.
While in college at Wayne State University, he helped found WayneSLAM (which stands for Wayne Student-Led Arts Movement) – a collegiate performing arts organization that hosted public events and workshops on campus. Past performers of WayneSLAM include Angel Nafis, Aziza Barnes, Safia Elhillo, Siaara Freeman, Robbie Q. Telfer, José Olivarez, Chace Morris, francine j. harris, Aricka Foreman, Matthew Olzmann, Shira Erlichman, and more.
In the summer of 2017, he will serve as a fellow with the Poetry Incubator – a project by The Poetry Foundation and Crescendo Literary – where he will have a chance to study diverse methods in community-based pedagogies. He will also be leading the 2018 Detroit Youth Poet Laureate & Ambassadors program in a citywide search for the next generation’s bravest voices.
When he’s not working, Benjamin is probably debating comic book film adaptations, cheering on the Detroit Pistons, or playing with his adorable baby nephews.