Passing Love

  • Passing Love is deceptive in its down-to-earth honesty and simplicity. Rick Benjamin's clear-cut langguage brims and sings, and one is taken to the edge of reckoning before he or she realizes what has happened. There's a needful celebration of everyday life at the core of Passing Love.— Yusef Komunyakaa
  • The artful compression in these fine poems enriches insight, magnifies detail, and allows for more spacious contemplation. Word by word, revelation after revelation, Rick Benjamin has given us a memorable collection of poems. — Margaret Gibson
  • There is a fantastic eye for detail here, whether Rick Benjamin is close to home watching over his children, or gazing off to the Bamiyan Buddhas. His poems sing the most ancient themes: vulnerable love, the primal lair of family, heartbreaking affection for children, fear for fragile things when danger appears. This is poetry for the twenty-first century, blazing with irises, cranberries, and mineral salt. — Andrew Schelling
  • I caught sight of a few lines in an open document on my desktop. Poetry! Obviously, immediately good: ‘charcoal shadows of what / were once craters, / eruptions.’ I hoped I had written it. But no — it was Rick Benjamin's Passing Love: 50 poems replete with the excesses of the ordinary, the longing inside possession—clever poems, like the sweet weight of children, all modulation and emphasis, palpable with thought: ‘a reminder to see / like a Dutch painter / every one of our days.’
  • Benjamin's fine line opens a dialogue between the domestic and what it is protected from—ten Bengal tigers, the scorpion on the neck, the alligator in the swamp. But the swamp comes into the alligator, the tigers come into the boy, and a flick of a knife produces both ‘the sharp / sizzle of a scorpion / in flames’ and ‘the rest of your life.’ This line is a zone of exchange—where being a twin, husband, father, and Buddhist transcends identity; it is less division than ring. — Mairéad Byrne

Endless Distances

  • These spare and flint-edged poems are concerned with what makes us human, what essence might be visible in solitude or in love, in the torturer's cell or the hospice bed. We are ‘surrounded, bound but/still seeing always a/certain opening over-/head’ in which we might find ‘stars & rims of sky’ that are, if we're lucky, ‘bright enough to navigate brutality.’ That qualified but brave vision is at the heart of Rick Benjamin's engaged, humane work. — Mark Doty
  • This is Zen brush-stroke music. Rick Benjamin talks to the dead. ‘Say the word,’ he says. And, after a death, sorting through details, lots of pen-knives laid out on top of a dress: ‘He could never seem to put/his hands on one when he wanted it, just/went out to get another.’ Horrible cruelties happen in Guantanamo, beautiful tenderness in a South African cell. Prisons and something like a prison. Rick lets us look at such things from inside his spare, clean language-music. For this poet, ‘two strings’ are enough. — Coleman Barks
  • Endless Distances is an absorbing meditation on the impermanence of our human experience and the heart's longing for a more perfect world. With unflinching courage, Rick Benjamin engages himself in striving for that singular word ‘with no bullshit in it,’ all the while acknowledging that ‘Some hungers/have edges so sharp no/ink can feed them.’
  • These poems bear witness to a wide range of subjects and emotions as they express how ‘life and death/are both part of the ineffable’ which we experience as we move ‘into the unglazed/future where death [lays] coiled/like a copperhead in the hollowed/out trunk of an old cedar.’
  • While Benjamin examines with uncompromising integrity the cancerous arrogance of power, privilege and self-righteousness which threaten to overwhelm us all, he ultimately seeks to lessen ‘the distance between us.’ Thes poems are written with such craft and grace that I am left with gratitude for the deeper understandings they offer my life and my world. — Michael S. Glaser

Floating World

  • Time, deep time, is living in the resonant poems of Rick Benjamin. It's amazing how legacies of family and habitation may be so neatly shaped and contained in lilting stanzas. Benjamin has a clear tongue for saying and a fine hold on mystery. After reading his poems, the world feels both more floating and more firm. — Naomi Shihab Nye
  • In Floating World, Rick Benjamin excavates layers of somatic memory to recall near-death encounters, recovering the unspeakable while making wonder out of the life-altering events that gave birth to the poet's consciousness. A book that reveals what's abandoned behind the shed door, forgotten in rooms full of dust, and inscribed in the scars of the body, this moving collection of poems reaches inward to revisit and hold up each small death to more closely regard the intimate roots of loss and the compassion that is born of giving everything up. Imbued with an ineffable longing, Rick Benjamin's poems ‘turn over a new sense of home on our tongues.’— Shin Yu Pai
  • Rick Benjamin is finding a beautiful voice-music here for the letting-go of being a parent, and many other quick passages. It is a clear listening, this music, to the heart-intelligence moving through us. — Coleman Barks


Rick Benjamin

Rick Benjamin is the State Poet of Rhode Island. He teaches or has taught at Brown University, the Rhode Island School of Design, the MFA Program in Interdisciplinary Arts at Goddard College, in many schools, and in community & assisted living centers — where he has passed good time in the company of people who range in age from six to ninety-six. He also serves as a Fellow at New Urban Arts — an afterschool arts mentoring program for Providence high school students. His poems & essays have appeared in PRØOF, Watershed, The Providence Journal, Tongue,, The Writer’s Circle, American Poets in the 21st Century: The New Poetics (Wesleyan University Press), Urthona: An International Buddhist Journal of the Arts, Poem, Home: An Anthology of Ars Poetica (Paper Kite Press), and La Petite Zine. He lives with his family in a very small village in the smallest state.

Get in Touch

For inquiries regarding appearances, workshops, readings, or performances, contact Rick at ribenjam at gmail dot com.