It’s Not What You Know

“Jenny, never forget that even more important than having talent,” my grandmother once told me, “is knowing talent.”
I hesitantly nodded my head in agreement, not fully understanding what she meant.
She continued, “That way, you can surround yourself with rising stars, wait until they get famous, and ride their coattails to success. Then, at the pinnacle of their careers, you write a crushing tell-all book about them, and laugh all the way to the bank.”
My grandmother grew up during the Depression, so she understood that sometimes you have to do whatever it takes to get by in life, ethics be damned.
With that in mind, I’m excited to give a shout out to one of the most remarkably talented people I know – Jen Benka – and share the details of an upcoming reading she has in New York City.
[Photo by Captain Semantic]
Among so many other things, Jen is an amazing poet and an outstanding performer, and on May 1st she will be reading from her recently published book of poetry, A Box of Longing With Fifty Drawers.
Jen Benka
Monday, May 1, 2006 at 8:00pm
The Poetry Project
St. Mark’s Church
131 East 10th St. (at 2nd Ave.)

In fact, those of you who just met Jen* at TequilaCon also know that she rocks a fake tattoo like nobody’s business, and can hold her own in the face of an overwhelming volume of blog talk, which says a lot.
So – if any of you will be in the NYC area on May 1st, her reading is not to be missed. This may be one of your remaining chances to see her perform before I write my scathing unauthorized biography and she ends up on the front page of The Star where a “close personal friend” reveals that she is the reason for the breakup of Brangelina.
And if you aren’t able to attend, but still want to check out her work, you can pick up a copy of her book here. It will only go up in value once the scandal hits.
An excerpt:

an unsolved mathematical equation:
land plus people divided by people minus land
times ocean times forest times river.
escape and the delusion of discovery:
across the mad ocean to the rocky shore
step foot onto land call it yours.
promised land lemonade stand.
auction block stew pot.
the dreams:
of corn field wheat field tobacco field oil
of iron cage slave trade cotton plantation
of hog farm dairy farm cattle ranch range
of Mississippi Mason-Dixon mountains
of territories salt lake lottery gold
of saw mill steel mill coal mine diamond.
topographic economic
industry and war.
a box of longing
with fifty drawers.


*Occasionally, I like to call her Vivian.

19 Responses to “It’s Not What You Know”

  1. elle Says:

    Geez, the only advice my grandmother gave me was to take a typing class and to wear a support bra. I was never quite sure if I was to do these things simultaneously or not.
    (Thanks for the info about Jen’s reading!)

  2. Jessica Says:

    Remember that photo you took of Jen/Viv while we were in NY? The one with the hood, glasses and the hand attempting to stop you? That should prepare her for all the photos Star will print after said scandal occurs.

  3. Dustin Says:

    Wait. Am I reading this right? TequilaCon’06.5: This time with verse.

  4. Anonymous Says:

    Dear Jenny,
    Thank you for this outrageous mention. May I see some NYC blogger poetry lovers soon.

  5. Sarah Says:

    I wish I had known Viv was a poet–I would have had even more to talk about with her.
    I really want to be at that reading now, but a Monday night won’t work for me what with being a mom and all. Damn kid. ;-)
    I am buying the book today, however.
    Congrats to Vivian and I expect a recap w/ photos, Jenny!

  6. jenny Says:

    Elle: I think your grandmother’s advice may have been more helpful. :)
    Jess: That has now become my favorite photo of her!
    Dustin: You have a promising career in slogan writing – are you in advertising?
    Viv: Please – I was holding back! And I hope you see some NYC bloggers soon, too!
    Sarah: Man, those kids with their needs… ;) And sadly, I won’t be able to be there either since I’m safely nestled back home in Chicago. I’m waiting for her to do her Midwest tour again.

  7. communicatrix Says:

    Hmmm…when I was 10, Nancy Reagan’s mother told me not to give away the milk for free or the boys wouldn’t buy the cow. But I think she said it ironically. She was a pretty wild broad in the day, and I don’t think she liked being stuck on an Arizona ranch like a retired racehorse.
    (Damn—that was a lot of nature references for a city girl.)
    Poetry has always scared me. Hell, I wrote that post in fake verse two days ago and have been too shaken to go back to my own blog.
    But your friend has a good title for her book. Maybe she can cure me of my fear of verse. Can I get her to leave a poem as my voicemail message or something? Like, commission her?

  8. teahouseblossom Says:

    So sorry I missed your event! It looks like it was a really great rocking time. I was comatose from the jet lag..let me know next time you do a get-together, ok?

  9. ms. sizzle Says:

    jen is vivian- i love it. and i love poetry. definitely will check this out. come to the west coast!
    why doesn’t you comment thingy want to remember my info? is this some sort of not-so-subtle sign to get me to stop commenting? (paranoia! hee hee.)

  10. jenny Says:

    Communicatrix: I, too, had an innate fear of poetry. It’s because i was ridiculed in school for writing this poem: “I do not like dogs/I do not like hogs/They are big/And they eat like pigs.” I wish I were kidding. But – Jen’s beautifully crafted words helped cure me of this fear. I have seen the light.
    THB: So bummed I didn’t get to meet you! Next time, indeed!
    Sizz: It’s not you, it’s me. Really. I’ve given myself a deadline of TequilaCon ’07 to get this comment remember-me issue fixed. If I can’t figure it out, I’m quitting blogging altogether.

  11. sandra Says:

    I’ll pass it on to my New York peeps (the next most important thing is “knowing people”!). And I’m all over getting a copy!

  12. shari Says:

    Um…, by TC’07? NO! You said this year — it was a New Year’s Resolution, man, and everyone knows you can’t back out on those!!!
    How cute is JenaViv?! Here all this time it turns out Vivian is actually your imaginary friend who looks like Jen, the famous poet.
    JenaViv, please make a reading tour of the West Coast soon. I will bring all my real friends.

  13. jenny Says:

    Sandra: You are too awesome – thanks for spreading the word!
    Shari: Dang, woman! Always with the nag, nag, nag. How can I plan TC’07 and learn how to code at the same time? It’s just not possible! I told you before… I’ll pay you $37,000 if you can fix it for me. Cash money.

  14. Dustin Says:

    Looks like it’s up to me then. I’ll try and steal my roomies camera and get some photos of the JenViv reading. Going to TequilaCon was the best publicity move that the JenViv ever made.

  15. dee-dee Says:

    Go Viv! Of course she rocks but Jen — the full on name disclosure + picture doesn’t help the stalking problem she has that comes with part of her fame!

  16. jenny Says:

    Dustin: Actually, the best publicity move she ever made was when she dangled her baby out of that hotel window… oh wait. That was Michael Jackson. Hope you can make it to her reading – I’ll tell her to keep her eyes peeled for the tall, well-dressed curly haired guy.
    Dee: Don’t worry – a few stalkers never slowed her down in the past! Plus, she carries a taser gun nowadays.

  17. anarnamus Says:

    I love your blog! Has anyone ever told you resemble Gilda Radner and/or Debra Winger? Just wondering.

  18. ashbloem Says:

    Sigh. My crush just grew exponentially.

  19. jenny Says:

    A: Thanks so much for stopping by! And although I don’t think anyone has ever told me I look like Gilda Radner, I was just telling someone that when I brush my hair out (which is only on a dare), I look exactly like Rosanne Rosannadanna. And Debra Winger is hot, so thanks! :)
    Ash: So, then I probably shouldn’t tell you that she can sing, too, huh? Really, it’s sickening. ;)