"Playground" picks up momentum from Benevento's previous two books of poetry, his volume of "selected" poems, (Expecting Songbirds 1983-2015), and his chapbook of poems in his own invented form, After, by including poems with an even wider range of publication dates than in Expecting Songbirds, and the presence of eight new "After" poems among its twenty-six lyrics.

Themes such as the after effects of unrequited love, growing up in working class Queens, the redeeming potential in family, all make their appearance. This collection offers far more than recapitulation, though, with poems set in places as varied as a bagel shop in Columbus, a tapas bar in downtown Miami and a barrio in East Oakland, and subjects ranging from rehabbing a shoulder impingement, to participating in a track program for underprivileged youth to inventing a new kind of cake.

Throughout these poems, Benevento affirms, as he has in published work for over thirty-five years now, his obsession with the paradox of poetry's ability to offer hope to a world that seems often hopeless without it.
Playground is available through Unsolicited Press or on Amazon


Joe Benevento continues his insightful exploration into the depths of personal history with this chapbook of alluring poems.  As each poem begins, the reader is immediately hooked by both identifying with the many archetypal experiences and rites of passage discussed, and Benevento's ability to take those moments to unexpected places.  With a veneer of homogeneity as a result of the chosen form, the poems in After strike at the very heart of what it means to look back on the past to create a map of one's own life. The reader is left to wonder about the many people who populate these poems. Refusing to pull any punches these poems remind us our lives are a network of many people and shared experiences.  This little bit of sameness and the daring truth within these poems give us all permission to start creating our own map. 
--Justin Evans, author of Sailing the Nameless Ship

From the moment he almost died in infancy to his final admissions about Sylvia Ramos still making meaning in his life and his unsettling pact with God, Joe Benevento's After takes readers on a journey rich with details of growing up Italian within a diverse neighborhood in Queens, of learning to survive, of longing for the unattainable, to moving to life in the Midwest where he mostly settles down with a wife and children.  His poems are often funny, moving, and always honest.  Every poem title starts with "After," and the final poem is "After All," ultimately delivering an unforgettable story about a particular life full of personality and universal truths. 
--Maryfrances Wagner, author of Red Silk

After is available through Mouthfeel Press or on Amazon.

Expecting Songbirds

Joe Benevento’s Expecting Songbirds, Selected Poems, 1983-2015, provides readers with the opportunity to sample the very best of the writer’s work from his four previous books in poetry: Holding On, Willing To Believe, My Puerto Rican Past and Tough Guys Don’t Write, along with some of his most recent journal-published poems collected under the heading “Ode to Pears.” 
Oftentimes narrative, and predominantly free verse, Benevento’s poems mirror his Italian-American, working class roots in a predominantly black and Latino neighborhood in Queens, but they also look back on his past three decades as professor, editor and writer in the small-town, overwhelmingly white Midwest and the tensions and ironies of having lived the life of an outsider in both settings. Poems delivered with the “plain spoken ease and realism of Frost” (Walter Bargen) and which, “at their best bring to mind the exceptional work of Philip Levine and B.H. Fairchild,” (Larry D. Thomas), Expecting Songbirds is an affirmation of Whitman’s goal to seek the miraculous in the commonplace. Whether dealing with never quite lost loves, multi-layered lessons gleaned from nature, or a bittersweet but genuine belief in family, Expecting Songbirds stands as testament to over three decades of serious commitment to accessible poetry by a writer who has not underestimated the redeeming value in never taking oneself too seriously.

Order a Signed Copy or find on Amazon.

Tough Guys Don't Write

"...In these powerful poems of consummate literary artistry, Benevento reveals, with rare insight and honesty, both the hard-core realities and hard-earned epiphanies of his blue-collar, working-class upbringing. His finely crafted poetry is brilliantly juxtaposed with the grittiness and down-to-earth authenticity of his subject matter. His best poems bring to mind the exceptional work of Philip Levine and B. H. Fairchild. Highly recommended."

--Larry D. Thomas, Member, Texas Institute of Letters and 2008 Texas Poet Laureate

Tough Guys Don't Write is available through Finishing Line Press or on Amazon.

Brief Tracks: Poems by Jim Thomas

Jim Thomas deftly weaves simple themes of midwestern rural life into exceptional reflections on the human experience. These lyric and narrative poems spring from an enjoyment of everyday living paired with an ever-present understanding of life's transience. This elegant volume of poetry is a testament to the craft of a greatly admired Missouri poet.

Jim Thomas (1930-2009) was a professor of English at Truman State University for more than thirty years, where he taught courses in American literature and creative writing. His poetry and fiction appeared in hundreds of literary journals, including Descant, Midwest Quarterly, and The Chariton Review. He previously published Seed Time, Harvest Time.

Edited by Joe Benevento.  Published by Truman State University Press, 2009. 

Brief Tracks is available on Amazon.

Other works of poetry by Joe Benevento:

    • My Puerto Rican Past, Ginninderra Press, 2006
    • Willing to Believe, Timberline Press, 2003
    • Holding On, Warthog Press, 1996