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Latest Books

Reading the Signs and other itinerant essays


With a wandering spirit and an inquisitive mind, Stephen Benz ventures around town, across country, and overseas in search of forgotten, overlooked, or misunderstood stories. From rock concerts and courthouses to farm towns, battlegrounds, historical sites, and quirky museums, these “itinerant essays” revel in discovering “new wonders every mile.”

Available now from Amazon and Etruscan Press

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The Ghost Owl Says Go Now

The poems in The Ghost Owl Says Go Now focus on place, specifically the vast American landscape from California to Key West and points in between. Guided by the wandering spirit of Bashō, some of the travel poems in this collection are wistful; others reflect on harsh realities experienced under the spell of wanderlust. Along the way, there are encounters with a variety of people—neighbors, relatives, strangers—that might be described as instances of synchronicity: encounters that seemingly offer significance beyond the random. Still other poems take their cues from cultural manifestations of Americana: music, artwork, literature, film. In this collection of poems, Stephen Benz continues his probing explorations into the topographies of Americana.

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Available now from Bookshop and Amazon

Americana Motel: Poems

The poems in Americana Motel speak powerfully of an America many readers might assume has vanished, a world of working people that has rarely been depicted with such clarity and unsentimental authenticity. Stephen Benz understands American loneliness better than any other contemporary poet I can think of. In its rich panoply of characters and situations, Americana Motel paints indelible portraits of individual souls woven into a tapestry of the heartland we might never otherwise have known. –Michael Hettich, author of To Start an Orchard


Now available from Main Street Rag Publishing

Click here to view a video reading of poems from the book

Topographies: Essays

"In Topographies we travel with Stephen Benz across America and around the world. Benz retraces the route of the Donner Party and recalls its travails. He arrives at Ground Zero in New Mexico where the first atomic bomb was exploded. He takes a slow, cold, rickety train ride across the border from Romania to the former Soviet Union. To these and other places Benz brings an observant eye for a place's geography and quirky characters along with a dramatic sense of the history that shaped this particular landscape. The pieces in Topographies are a stunning addition to the tradition of the American essay." ―Priscilla Long, Fire and Stone: Where Do We Come From? What Are We? Where Are We Going?

Available now from Amazon and Etruscan Press

Read reviews on The Literary Review and WorldWideWriter

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Whirlwind, Thorn Tree, Tumbleweed: Poems

“Stephen Benz’s poems, rich in sense of place, take us on a compelling journey. The layers of stories in these poems are simultaneously personal and universal in the way they tap into human experience—from family story to travels of great distance. Benz evokes the spirits of ancient poets, like Bashō, and draws connections to the contemporary road. His poems explore various crossroads and take us across the Great Divide, even as they deftly challenge physical and spiritual divides.”

–Diane Thiel


Available now from Finishing Line Press and Amazon

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