Joe Benevento, grandson of southern Italian immigrants, grew up in a working class neighborhood in Queens, the fifth of seven children. His particular interest in Saint Joseph traces back to his childhood and the importance attached to his “name day,” March 19th, which featured an Italian-American parade in New York City and special “St. Joseph Day pastries” in all the Italian bakeries.
Benevento received a BA degree in English and Spanish from NYU, an MA in English from Ohio State and a Ph.D. in English from Michigan State. Since 1983 he has taught in the English Department of Truman State U. where he also serves as poetry editor for the Green Hills Literary Lantern. His poems, stories, essays and reviews have appeared in close to three hundred different places, including Poets & Writers, Bilingual Review, Prairie Schooner and St. Anthony Messenger. He is the author of fourteen books of fiction and poetry, including the young adult, multicultural novel The Odd Squad, a 2006 finalist for the John Gardner Fiction Book Award. Benevento lives with his wife Carol in Kirksville, Missouri; they have four children, Maria, Joseph, Claire and Margaret, all of whom are also writers.