Cara Benson

Yesterday we told you about the Frequency North kicking off it’s new season on Thursday, but as we mentioned, there are a few other readings going on at the same time. Our good friend and longtime local activist and poet Dan Wilcox is hosting the Third Thursday Poetry Night at the Social Justice Center (33 Central Ave., Albany) with featured poet Cara Benson.

There is an open mic (1 poem!) before and after the feature. Sign up begins at 7:00 and the poetry starts at 7:30.  There is a $3.00 donation, suggested; “more if you got it, less if you can’t”.

Cara Benson is the author of the poetry books “(made)” and the forthcoming “Funny. Considering how heated it was.” Her poems have or will appear in NY Times, Boston Review, Best American Poetry, and Fence. She has received a New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship in Poetry and is the current Chair of the PEN Prison Writing Committee.

Here is a video of Cara reading  from (made) at a 2010 BookThug launch.

In the magical dictionary of (made), Cara Benson renders hotel facades in “marshmallow” — not a color, but the surface — a substance I associate, at least in North America, with outdoor recreational fires. That hotel is going to burn to a crisp, in the social and planetary imaginary of Benson’s intense work. What’s particularly successful about this collection is the fact that this projective, impossible, ruined image does not have a place in the book, but, rather, appears/can appear: in the body of the reader: reading. Images are tracked not just for their futures but for their past versions (“garbage”) — in which we “wander, but delete, too.” “How can you aim a fire?” asks Benson, in the “cold axis” of an aftermath in which the earth is an “orange” orbiting or attracting the “jagged spark lines” of the sky. What breaks the sky. This is writing from the holocene. It’s not trajectory. It’s not narrative. It’s vibration. — Bhanu Kapil

In this book illuminated with language, these prose poems lyrically scrutinize the everyday in a pileup of evidence. Isolated in cars on the interstate, people come together to crash or pile into nightcourt, assigning blame, relations askew in this atomizing economy where hands touch to exchange money, where billboards commandeer attention. It’s easier to take credit than responsibility. But how do the quiet encounters add up so that one by one individuals are also connected — comrades? “These are the people,” Cara Benson explains, accounting, too, for the bats, spiders, the sated cats, a sunflower that achieved its bloom — the many agents of a (made) world. Thank goodness Cara Benson is noting down the details, in language (made) into poetry, and poetry (made) into this gorgeous book. — Kaia Sand

This is one of the longest running poetry open mics in the area and a real treasure for the community. Many of us local poets have had our first featured readings at the Third Thursday events. Dan is always bringing in a great mix of area and out-of-town poets to blend with the immense talent that we have right here in Albany. This is one of the open mics to get to if you are a poet or spoken word artist and want to perform or you just want to sit back and take it all in.