Robert R. Bensen

Professor Bensen administers the Writing Competency program and the Creative Writing program, andRobert R. Bensen teaches courses in literature, and in writing poetry, fiction, and expository composition. His teaching and literary research interests include British poetry of the 17th century, as well as American Indian and Caribbean literatures. Born in Joliet, Illinois, in 1947, Bensen attended Joliet Junior College (AA 1966) and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (AB 1968, AM 1970, PhD 1974).

He writes poetry and literary criticism, both of which have been extensively published in the U.S., the United Kingdom, the West Indies and Asia, and in African-American and Native American journals. His newest book is Orenoque, Wetumka, and Other Poems (Bright Hill Press, 2012).  These poems occupy the borderlands between Euro-America and Native America, in an expanse of historical and cultural terrain from North to South America and the Caribbean. A large excerpt of Orenoque, along with artwork by colleague Phil Young, was published in The Journal of Commonwealth Literature (Icfai Univrsity, India) in 2010. His most recent articles are on the poetry of Osage poet Carter Revard (2008) and the West Indian poet Derek Walcott (2009).

His books, published in collaboration with artists, include Scriptures of Venus (with Hyde Meissner, Swamp Press), Day Labor (with Phil Young, Serpent & Eagle Press), Two Dancers (with Charles Bremer, Woodland Arts Editions) and others. His sixth collection, Orenoque, Wetumka and Other Poems, is to be published in October 2012. His poetry has earned a poetry fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts and the 1996 Robert Penn Warren Award. He has written numerous essays on Caribbean and Native American literature, and edited several anthologies of those literatures, most recently Children of the Dragonfly (U. of Arizona Press). He is an invited member of the WordCraft Circle of Native Writers and Storytellers.

His poems from the collection Two Dancers (2004) were on exhibit at the National Museum of Dance in Saratoga Springs, New York, from April 2007 through October 2008. The showing of his poems along with photographs by Charles Bremer of dancers Elisabeth Baldanza and Anna Lucia Bensen has enjoyed eight gallery exhibitions from 2002-2012.

Office: Clark 226
Phone: 607-431-4902