contributor

Jennifer Benka

For much of her more than 20 years in nonprofit management, Jen has served national organizations dedicated to writing and poetry. Before joining the Academy of American Poets, Jen was the National Director of Development and Marketing for 826 National, a youth writing organization based in San Francisco, which was founded by the award-winning author Dave Eggers. At 826, Jen oversaw social media and online cause marketing campaigns, and helped lead trainings for nonprofit leaders around the world interested in developing arts and literacy programs. She also previously served, for nearly a decade, as the Managing Director of Poets & Writers in New York City, where she was the deputy administrative officer, and chief fundraising and marketing officer. At Poets & Writers, Jen helped expand a national grantmaking program supporting poetry readings and workshops, launch a new national prize for poets, and redesign the organization's popular website for writers. She has served on the Boards of the local literary organizations Small Press Traffic in San Francisco and Woodland Pattern Book Center in Milwaukee; on arts and literature panels for the Massachusetts Cultural Council, Milwaukee County, the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, and the New York State Council on the Arts; and as a judge for numerous poetry contests and prizes, including the Lambda Literary Awards. As an advocate for American poets and poetry, Jen also speaks frequently on panels and to media, and has been interviewed by publications and programs including The New York Times and PBS Online.

Jen is also the author of the poetry collections Pinko (Hanging Loose Press) and A Box of Longing With Fifty Drawers (Soft Skull Press); the artist book Preamble, a collaboration with artist Mark Wagner (Booklyn); and co-author, with Carol Mirakove, of the chapbook, 1,138 (Belladonna). Her poems and essays have appeared in numerous print and online publications, including Crossing State Lines: An American Renga (Farrar, Straus and Giroux). Having a commitment to bringing poetry into the public sphere, she has organized several large-scale poetry events in New York City, including a 24-hour marathon reading of the collected poems of Emily Dickinson, the inaugural event at The Bowery Poetry Club. And, she maintains a blog that explores poetry and photography. Jen holds a BA degree in Journalism from Marquette University and an MFA degree in poetry from The New School.

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Jennifer Benka