Joe Benevento

Joe Benevento grew up in Richmond Hill, Queens, New York, in a working class neighborhood, the fifth of seven children in a loving, Italian-American home.  That home, that family and that neighborhood formed the basis and backbone of much of his writing in both poetry and fiction.  Joe says the neighborhood eventually experienced “white flight,” but his family stayed, so he had the fairly unique opportunity to be the only non-white in a peer group of black and Latino friends.  After twelve years in parochial schools, he attended NYU, majoring in English and Spanish and doing well enough to be named to Phi Beta Kappa.  From there he moved to Ohio State for an MA degree and Michigan State for his Ph.D.  Since 1983 he has lived in a small town in Missouri and has taught American literature and creative writing at Truman State University where he is also poetry editor of the Green Hills Literary Lantern.

He married a small town Missouri woman about 30 years ago and they have four wonderful children.

Joe says he writes mostly because he feels the need to express his feelings, his beliefs, and sense of humor. He wants his poetry to be accessible and straightforward as he feels too many writers, especially poets these days, don’t follow that same guideline. Joe has published fourteen books, including Expecting Songbirds, Selected Poems, 1983-2015, and his writings have appeared in hundreds of literary magazines and journals. 

   Sudden Rain

   My student who often arrives late
   today also arrives wet, amazing me,
   since when I left my office, one of the few
   with a big window, it was white
   clouds, blue sky, some sun.
   People are reading each other's
   poems, so no one minds as I slip out
   to find how wet it is getting,
   since the guy grading our yard
   in hopes of halting our periodic
   basement pond, stopped when
   four inches of rain crashed
   at once on his big yellow 
   Caterpillar.  He can't come back
   until all the mud dries back to earth.
   So when I open the door to my office
   for the best look at this latest dampening
   to my modest hopes, I'm embarrassed
   by the rainbow, brightening across campus,
   humbling as any undeserved present,
   and I see a student I like, sitting, waiting
   to talk to someone else and I invite:
   "Want to see a rainbow?" He smiles and 
   there are actually two, just a little
   piece of sky apart, which I had missed
   at first, but which, nonetheless were 
   really there all the time.
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