“Some people walk into a room loudly. Desiring to be seen, heard, felt, listened to. Every once in a while there’s someone who slinks in through the back and fills the room with so much love with their quiet existence everyone can’t help but notice. That’s what Ben is like.” ~ Hossein Attar
Janne: How long have you been writing poetry?
Ben: I started writing poetry back in college..for a girl. I always invest my poetic energy into women (laughs). But I stopped writing after college because I was shooting and touring with musicians. The world I was living in was full of creation and written expression and I didn’t feel as much need to create my own, as I was being fed constantly by lyricism.
Janne: We all personalize and interpret poetry in our own way, half of art is in the eyes of the reader. I felt that an ongoing theme in Guiding Nights was letting go and forgiveness. Do you think forgiveness has to be collective? Or that it sometimes has to be done on our own?
Ben: I believe forgiveness is all on your own. Or it has to be done apart before it can be done together. Even when it’s done collectively, I think true forgiveness is all on you. The front half of Guiding Nights is based heavily on forgiveness, and the second half focuses on letting go and gratitude.
Janne: Are you writing about your own experiences?
Ben: There is only one line in the poem that is about my own heart, the rest is other people’s experiences. I always find routinely if I speak about others experiences it amplifies my ability to write. Both of the individuals I wrote about scraped bottom and have risen from the ash. I’ve always been on a sight seeing tour of the world and other people’s pain.
Janne: What line is written about your own heart?
Ben: It is with a heavy heart I admit, that too many times in my life, I have lost it.
Janne: How many times have you felt “it”?
Ben: Four, five. I had a habit of being very close with people but very good at disconnecting. I can easily cut a tie, leave without a flinch. Those four are all long friendships and quick outs.
Janne: How do you love?
Ben: When I go into love I want to make sure I bring all of me to the table, and they bring all of them and as long as it’s authentic I always trust that we’ll be able to sort it all out. I want to experience everything I can humanly experience. I want to experience every complicated emotion, high, low all of it. There have been times where I have been like this might not work out and then gone, “Fuck it, I’ll throw my heart at that.”
Ben: Shit Yeah. I think there is a ton of them out there. I think it’s easy to fall in love, with anyone (laughs), but I think there are always people that are better suited for us. I believe some people get there quicker than others.
Janne: You have these lines tattooed to your ribs, what do they mean to you?
Certain guides in our life
We’ll never know who
What their contributions were
Or where credit is due
So be thankful for the things
You wouldn’t think to
It is often the reason
You find your way through
Ben: Those lines are about universality. Global acceptance. Making sure I am talking to everyone on this planet in the history of forever. A lot of what I want to do with my work is to speak to everyone. We’re all kinda in this shit together, we’re all doing it together. Make sure you’re grateful for it all. You know—be grateful for the guy who stepped out of line impatiently in the coffee lineup this morning, so you were three minutes earlier than you intended and missed getting in an almost accident. You can’t know all the things you should be grateful for, so be grateful for it all.
Janne: What are you grateful for?
Ben: The people in my life. I am grateful for life—I don’t know how it came about, where it’s from, how it’ll end or what happens after and I don’t care. I am grateful for the opportunity to live and help one another. I am grateful for the sensation of coffee in the morning. For Wild Cherry Pepsi , Cheese and Pineapple pizza, f*ck ham—just pineapple. If you want to hear me get excited let’s talk about Canadian bacon. (laughs)
Janne: What kind of coffee?
Ben: It all kinda tastes the same if you drown it in enough creamer, f*ck it I’ll even microwave it.
Janne: What inspired you to create a video of spoken word poetry?
Ben: In Today’s day and age YouTube is huge. I want to perpetuate that. Spoken word is eaten up. A lot of people are poets who write quietly and don’t say anything. I want to perpetuate writing. It’s a marriage of all the worlds I operate in. I write story, I shoot story—I just had to.
Janne: Where was it filmed?
Ben: I filmed it a few days before my grandma passed away—in her living room.
Janne: I love the music, who contributed it?
Ben: The track is called “It Was A Sight” by the Lowercase Noises. His music help to shape the performance in a big way, I am grateful it accompanied it.
Want more Ben? (I do.)
One of the creative pies he has his fingers in is Elephant Journal.
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Editor: Emily Bartran
Photo: Used with Permission