sirjoshbennett sirjoshbennett

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Joshua Bennett  Writer. Assistant Professor of English at Dartmouth. Harvard Society of Fellows. abolition. black study. Author of The Sobbing School (Penguin, 2016).

I received my PhD in English from Princeton two years ago now. For most of that time, the document lived inside the same cardboard envelope they sent it in. I didn’t have the language to say so back then, but I realize now that I didn’t feel like I could hold the degree in my hands, and let it be real in that way, until I had a better sense of what I wanted to pursue next. Until I stopped hedging my bets, and waiting for the moment things might fall apart. Until I allowed myself a second to breathe, reflect, and give thanks.

These days, I’m doing my best to trust that what is good, and what brings me joy, will last. It’s been a long process, but this moment felt like a step in the right direction. Oh, and in case you were wondering, yes that is a microphone and home recording studio in the background. I’m an English professor now, but I’m still about these bars. All day every day.

Hi, everyone! Just checking in from onboard this very large red boat to let y’all know that I’m back on the road this fall. Anyone who wants to bring me out to their college, university, conference or community center, just drop a note to and we’ll make it happen. My schedule for the next few months is below. See you soon!
10/3: DePauw University
10/6: “What does justice look like?”: a conference in celebration of the June Jordan Fellowship
10/24: Sarah Lawrence College (craft lecture)
10/26: Bay Shore High School
11/8-11/9: American Studies Association Conference
11/10: Baltimore Student Diversity Leadership Conference (keynote)
1/12: New City School
1/21: Lenoir-Rhyne University, Visiting Writers Series


Earlier this summer, I had the honor of celebrating the life & work of Dr. Cornel West with a fantastic group of scholars at Dartmouth. Back in high school, it was Dr. West’s writing that inspired my dream of becoming a professor. During the two-hour commute to school each day, I would read his book, Race Matters. It gave me permission to imagine another life, another world.
As I prepare for this next phase of my journey, it‘s been useful to remember that this is how my time as a scholar began: riding the 1 bus to the 7 bus at 6AM, buttered roll from the bodega wrapped in aluminum foil, keeping the left pocket of my knockoff North Face jacket warm. Dip Set in the headphones. Race Matters right next to my history textbook, both a supplement & a necessary corrective. Whatever I accomplish in my time as a teacher, I owe to these moments of study, & the long line of educators, like Dr. West, who made them possible. Today, and every day, I am thankful for their radical imaginations, for the courage it took to give their dreams to the air.

This week, I had the honor of collaborating with the PBS program & educational initiative, Poetry in America. We discussed a pretty wide range of writers—Lucille Clifton, James Wright, and Paul Laurence Dunbar among others—and closed out our two-day conversation with a reading of my poems. The footage will be shared with K-12 students across the country.

In the midst of what has been a hectic, beautiful summer for all sorts of reasons, the past two days were a timely reminder of why I came to love poems in the first place. Not only because they gave me language for my fears & my dreams alike, but because they opened up the world, and helped me find friends where I never would have thought to look. It’s true, what Baldwin once said about the power of books: “You think your pain and your heartbreak are unprecedented in the history of the world, and then you read.” Every day, I am thankful for the gift his words, and the words of countless others, have given me. I can’t imagine where I would be without their valor, their example, their invincible love.

New book, new season, new author photo for the streets. I’m also pretty sure that the first class I teach at Dartmouth will be Introduction to Black Environmental Thought, so a portrait amongst the flora seemed like a solid fit. Oh, and before you ask, yes we will be watching that episode of Atlanta where Paper Boi gets stuck in the woods. It’s my favorite one.
#beardgang #blackjoy #TheBlackOutdoors #VineyardLife

It’s official! I’m excited to announce that my second collection of poems, OWED, will be published by Penguin Books in 2020. I have been hard at work on this book for a long time now, and it feels great to know that it will have such an incredible home. Thank you to everyone who purchased a copy of The Sobbing School, watched a video on YouTube, or came out to one of my shows. Your support made this moment—as well as so many other beautiful moments over the past 10 years & counting—possible. This book is for every single one of you. It is a praise song for the world we are building together. And I can’t wait to share it with you all.
#Owed #AnotherOne #SecureTheBag #YonkersStandUp #MamaWeMadeIt #AfterThisImGoingOnVacation

My general mood for the rest of this summer might be best described as thoroughly optimistic black man on a beautiful boat with newfound gray in his beard that he can trace directly to the stress of editing his forthcoming book projects (more on that soon) though he is nonetheless energized by a persistent, underlying joy that, as his mother might say, the world did not give him, and the world cannot take away.
#NewBooks #blackjoy #BoatLife #beardgang #GrownManScarves #HappyJuneteenth

Baby Marley & her biggest fan. Just about every single day, the knowledge that she is here now makes me want to make this world a more open, loving, joyous place.
I’m working on it, little one. Moment by moment. I promise. #tbt

Spent the holiday weekend at a wedding in Philly with some of my favorite people. Congratulations to the bride & groom: Helanah & Greg. It has been one of the great joys of my life to see you grow in love over the past several years. May this next phase of your journey together be as luminous, as full of astonishment and sweetness and surprise, as your very best dreams. Thank you both for sharing this window into your lives with the rest of us. It was a wonder to behold.

Hi, everyone! I am excited to announce that I have accepted a position as an Assistant Professor of English & Creative Writing at Dartmouth College. I will join the faculty of Arts & Sciences there next year, and also be affiliated with their Department of African and African American Studies.
I have wanted to be a professor since I was 17 years old. Now, as then, I marvel just about every day at the fact that one can make a living, make a life, via the exchange of beautiful ideas. It was the mere possibility of living into some version of that dream which inspired me to become a poet many years ago. And it is this very same dream, this wondrous and terrifying hope, that continues to animate my work as an educator both inside and outside of the classroom. Thank you to everyone who held me close and kept me alive along the way. Those who loved me enough to tell me the truth and help me grow. Your love made all the difference. We made it through. And now, we celebrate!

#BlackJoy #NewJob #SecureTheBag #YonkersStandUp #MamaWeMadeIt #DipSetForever

It’s always a great time when I get to catch up with these guys. They are two of my favorite people on Earth, and pretty much every time I see Miles as of late, it is a welcome reminder to step my suit/hair/general comportment game all the way up.
Happy Easter, everyone. I hope wherever you are that yours might be filled with joy, abiding love, and everything else that makes this grand, unpredictable life of ours worth cherishing.
#HappyEaster #FamilyTime #beardgang #blackmensmiling #blackboystoo #BestLife

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