Photo Credit: Cate Barry

Photo Credit: Cate Barry



Born and raised in Iowa, Oliver Baez Bendorf is the author of two full-length collections of poetry, Advantages of Being Evergreen (Cleveland State University Poetry Center, September 2019) and The Spectral Wilderness (Kent State U., 2015), which was selected by Mark Doty for the Stan & Tom Wick Poetry Prize. He holds an MFA in Poetry from University of Wisconsin-Madison, and currently teaches as an assistant professor of poetry at Kalamazoo College in Michigan.


Oliver Baez Bendorf’s debut full length collection, The Spectral Wilderness (Kent State U.) was selected by Mark Doty for the Stan & Tom Wick Poetry Prize. His second book, Advantages of Being Evergreen, won the Cleveland State University Poetry Center Open Book Poetry Competition and will be published September 10, 2019. His poems have been published in American Poetry Review, Poetry, BOMB, Academy of American Poets’ Poem-a-Day, Troubling the Line: Trans and Genderqueer Poetry and Poetics, and elsewhere. He has been a featured reader at The White House, Sarah Lawrence College, New Orleans Poetry Festival, Smith College, Fall For The Book Festival, Indiana University, Woodland Pattern, and elsewhere. A recipient of honors and fellowships from CantoMundo, Lambda Literary, Vermont Studio Center, and University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Institute for Creative Writing, Oliver was born in Iowa and currently teaches as an assistant professor of poetry at Kalamazoo College in Michigan. He is also a faculty member at the 2019 Conference on Poetry at The Frost Place in Franconia, NH.


Oliver Baez Bendorf returns poetry to its origins of magic.
- CAConrad, author of While Standing in Line for Death

In poem after poem he builds and rebuilds a body, a story, a desire that are at once familiar and strange... Bendorf's poems give us all we have ever wanted, to wake up and feel that the body we are in is ours.
- Natalie Diaz, author of When My Brother Was An Aztec

It’s a joy… to come nearer to a realm of experience little explored in American poetry, the lives of those who are engaged in the complex project of transforming their own gender… Oliver Bendorf writes from a paradoxical, new-world position: the adult voice of a man who has just appeared in the world. A man emergent, a man in love, alive in the fluid instability of any category.
- Mark Doty, from the introduction to The Spectral Wilderness

What gorgeous and ravenous rackets Oliver Bendorf’s poems are made of; what a yearning and beautiful heart. ‘Lift a geode from the ground and crack me open,’ he writes, which is more or less what these poems do for me: break me open to what might sparkle and blaze, what might glisten and burn inside.
- Ross Gay, author of Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude

With rigorous compassion and great formal dexterity Bendorf imagines a new world for all of our animal selves in which we are truly seen and truly safe… [he] is making a future grammar for the moment all of our vessels our free and held. I am living for the world these poems anticipate.
- Gabrielle Calvocoressi, author of Rocket Fantastic

The poet ponders the impossible question of what it means to be home. Here the body is a shared condition. The body is language. It changes. It resists. It mourns. It reincarnates with the “teeth of our dead around our neck.”
- Daniel Borzutzky, author of Lake Michigan

The woods speak, and the river always has a story to tell. Oliver Baez Bendorf asks us to listen.
- Amaud Jamaul Johnson, author of Darktown Follies

Advantages of Being Evergreen (full-length book of poetry)
Cleveland State University Poetry Center, 2019
The Gospel According to X (poetry chapbook)
Seven Kitchens Press, 2019
The Spectral Wilderness (full-length book of poetry)
Kent State University Press, 2015


Open Book Poetry Competition, Cleveland State University Poetry Center (2018)
CantoMundo Poetry Fellowship (2018)
Halls Emerging Artist Fellowship, University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Institute for Creative Writing (2017-2018)
Vermont Studio Center Poetry Fellowship (2016)
Finalist, Thom Gunn Award for Gay Poetry (2016)
Stan & Tom Wick Poetry Prize (2013)
Published in Best New Poets (2012)




Poetry Reading
Writing Workshop
Keynote Speaker
Anthology Request
Class Visit

Oliver’s session was a model for what a visitor can do in a short period of time. His pedagogical engagement with this group was so easy and charming that even normally-shy students felt comfortable asking questions and sharing their work. After the workshop, I thought quite a bit about how I might adapt some of Oliver’s strategies in my own courses. I’d enthusiastically recommend Oliver’s workshops for writers of any experience, and hope he will come back soon!
— Andrea Lawlor, Mount Holyoke College