On the search for this month’s radical and radiant artist, Marinna Benzon (she/her) came across my path quite naturally. We interviewed on a sunny day, and we quickly realized we had a lot more in common than we thought. I am so excited to share with you all the wonderful person that is Marinna Benzon.
When thinking about the word rejoice (this month’s theme), Marinna Benzon perfectly fits the definition. In her own words, she’s ready to “be stuff and do things!” Marinna is a poet and artist based in Los Angeles with a new chapbook titled “Millenial Dogeater,” a collection of poems based on her experience as a queer first-generation American.
Marinna started writing poetry in the fourth grade in her English class, but she didn’t consider it seriously as a form of artist expression until her early teenage years. “I started to understand how I was positioned in America, how I’m positioned in my nuclear family, what it is like to be Asian and dealing with racism, and all these things that are part of the human experience. Sometimes I didn’t fully understand how to place my feelings, so poetry felt like the most intimate way to just explode everything I’m feeling onto a page and just have it live there.” We both agreed that for poetry, you “gotta hurt a little bit.”
Her writing process for poetry comes in scattered pieces. Marinna writes when she’s feeling deep emotions, and specifically, anger and sadness have “pioneered [her] writing style.” When she was younger, her poetry reflected the struggles she had in her youth, like heartbreak and her position in her family. But in this last year, she has found what her “voice sounds and looks and feels like, and it is more multi-faceted.”
When we came to the topic of her chapbook “Millenial Dogeater,” we both fangirled a little over how excited we were about the title (I even described to her how I had to catch my breath a little upon seeing it for the first time). ‘“Millenial Dogeater” is a collection of poetry that voices my narratives about being a queer, first-generation, Filipino-American in America. It takes a look into queer identity, cultural appropriation (and how that leads into gentrification), and a lot about race. Overall, I’d say it’s about self-empowerment through poetry.” In the creation of this chapbook, Marinna was able to cultivate her voice, and she described it as “a little revolutionary for [her] to put it out there.”
The title was almost “5’2 and Running My Mouth,” but ultimately “Millenial Dogeater” became the title because of how strongly she resonated with the power of reclaiming the term “dogeater.” She shared that she even had the name in her head before putting the chapbook together. Marinna described how both terms “millennial” and “dog eater” were labels put onto her generation and her culture that she wished to give power to, “as a way of saying here’s my middle finger and my book of poetry that says all the things you say are terrible about me.”
Marinna’s vision of the world is queer and of color, and is a radical and radiant voice for marginalized communities who are ready to reclaim their space. Her chapbook “Millenial Dogeater” is thoughtfully dedicated to queer, BIPOC folk, and beautifully illustrates exactly what the world needs to hear right now. Marinna is currently working on a new manuscript (hint: movies and Katniss Everdeen), and is excited for the future of the younger generations.
You can find Marinna’s chapbook on https://www.perennial-press.com/ for purchase, and you can also visit her website at https://www.marinnabenzon.com/. To view a reading of her poem “The Preamble,” you can visit @theradmagofficial on Instagram.
MARINNA BENZON QUICK FACTS:
- She/Her pronouns
- Poet, Filmmaker and Artist in Los Angeles
- Best place she’s ever been: New Orleans, right before Katrina hit.
- She is manifesting that Anna Kendrick will read her chapbook.