Meet Ariana Benson, Winner of the 2022 Furious Flower Poetry Prize


by Megan N. Medeiros


SUMMARY: Megan sits down with 2022 Furious Flower Poetry Prize Winner Ariana Benson to discuss her process and her win in advance of the reading this Wednesday, April 20, 2022 at 5pm.

Ariana Benson, winner of the 2022 Furious Flower Poetry Prize, will be reading alongside honorable mention, Benin Lemus and award-winning poet, Tim Seibles in the first in-person poetry reading at Furious Flower Poetry Center since 2020 on Wednesday, April 20, 2022 at 5pm in Highlands Room in Festival on JMU's campus. She's the recipient of the 2020 Graybeal-Gowen Poetry Prize and the 2021 Porter House Review Poetry Prize. She is currently serving as the 2022 Eliza Moore fellow for Artistic Excellence at the Oak Spring Garden Foundation. We sat down for a Q&A with Ariana to get to know her a little better.

Q: How did you find Furious Flower and our poetry prize? ariana-benson

A: "I learned about Furious Flower while studying at Spelman College with the poet Sharan Strange, who has long been at the forefront of African American poetry herself as one of the founders of the Dark Room Collective. She is one of my dearest mentors and favorite poets, and she's the one who sent me the flyer suggesting I submit."

Q: What does being a part of Furious Flower and the winner of our poetry prize mean to you?

A: "Being a part of Furious Flower in this way is deeply meaningful to me as a poet, and a person, whose life and work are deeply rooted in Southern Black tradition. It is an honor to be recognized by an institution that paved the way for the poets who paved mine."

Q: Can you tell us a little about the poems you submitted and your writing process in creating them?

A: "The poems I submitted are from my manuscript 'Black Pastoral,' which explores nature and landscape, history and archive, and Blackness all through the lyric lens. I draw inspiration from personal memories, a strawberry-picking field trip, for instance, as well as iconspeople and moments in Black history, as with the poem about the Lovings. I feel it's too often assumed that Black people only exist within urban contexts, so I wrote these poems to explore and illuminate the connection we have always had with nature, with the pastoral."

benson1.jpegQ: Do you have any advice for up-and-coming poets?

A: "This is a tough question because I am still very much an upcoming poet... I think I would say it's much less important, at this stage, to have a writing practice than a reading and listening one. That is to say, I learned so much more with my pen down and eyes open than I ever did trying to write with only my own voice in my head."

Don't miss your opportunity to hear Ariana read her poetry alongside honorable mention, Benin Lemus and award-winning poet, Tim Seibles in-person or virtually on Wednesday, April 20, 2022 at 5pm. You can find out more information on the Facebook event page and on our website.

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Published: Monday, April 18, 2022

Last Updated: Tuesday, September 20, 2022

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