Rick Benjamin ADJUNCT LECTURER
Rick Benjamin has taught engaged poetry classes in a variety of Brown departments, always with the aim of sharing students’ knowledge with the larger Providence community.
In his Wild Literature & Urban Landscape class, for example, Benjamin’s students use literary and visual arts to circulate environmental and ecological education to community partners. And in Poetry & Community, students conduct lessons in poetry in schools, community and assisted living centers, juvenile and adult detention facilities and elsewhere as part of their learning at Brown.
Today, like every other day, we wake up empty and frightened. Don't open the door to the study and begin reading. Take down a musical instrument. Let the beauty we love be what we do. There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground. -Rumi
Rick Benjamin believes that Brown students ought to fully honor their citizenship in Providence. Because students are in the privileged position of receiving knowledge and resources, Benjamin calls on students to share these gifts with their fellow community members.
Benjamin himself engages with community members in similar ways. In past years, he has worked with teenage mothers through a poetry and literacy initiative at the West End Community Center. Since 2009, he has conducted poetry workshops &and produced an anthology with a group of elders at a local assisted living center. Each week, he offers a 1½ – 2 hour poetry workshop which the elders use to reflect and write about their life experiences.
The Anthology, called, Love, Life, Loss contains over 100 pages of poems that were written in 20 minutes, and, as Rick says, “95 years or so.” Proceeds from its sale fund a scholarship fund for graduating high school students in Providence who wish to undertake study in literature and the arts.
Benjamin is also the founding director of Rhode Island River of Words, an ecological education program that utilizes arts in a trickle-down educational model involving college, high school and middle & elementary school students. Through River of Words, Benjamin has conducted residencies and workshops all over the state of Rhode Island.
Rick also teaches in the MFA program in Interdisciplinary Art at Goddard College and has a long background in the non-profit sector both locally and elsewhere.