I first discovered Smith’s work online before seeing him perform live. His work is raw, humorous and confronting. People either love it or hate it.
Recently, Ben and his wife D’arne became first-time parents and ‘Horror Sleaze Trash’ was put on the back-burner. This week, I had the opportunity to catch up with Ben and interview him for The Huffington Post Blog.
We got to chat about his artistic journey thus far and his plans moving forward.
Hey Ben. I recently read somewhere that you’re British. Is this true?
Yep. I was born in Yorkshire, England and migrated to Australia with my parents and little sister when I was four. My old man got a gig sandblasting and painting, we moved into a small house in Westmeadows, Melbourne. We recently purchased our first home in the same suburb.
The community is great, it’s got an old-school feel. The gas station still hires someone to pump your petrol and the bottle-shop boys know you by name. I can hear the kids playing football on Sundays and I have a garden. The only way I’ve found to stay relatively sane is to maintain the grounded family-man approach to life. The art side of things is a vent from the normalcy of the everyday.
Does your family support your life as an artist?
My parents have always been my staunch supporters. I met my wife when I was 15, we have been together ever since. Struggling with depression, she has taught me how to love and brought out the sincerity in me.
Being an artist is a daily battle, what helps you to stay sane?
Cats have kept me at peace. I have strong opinions but I don’t like to rant and rave. I believe art should be cathartic and not-for-profit — it’s for release. I believe in brutal honesty. Don’t write the poem unless you’ve lived it. But as Chopper Read said: “Don’t let the truth get in the way of a good yarn”.
You’re the editor-in-chief of Horror Sleaze Trash, which is responsible for giving many underground and indie artists around the world air-time. When did HST first launch?
We must have started around 2011. It’s been a wild ride. We’ve published tens of thousands of poets, photographers and artists from all walks of life. It’s been a fuck-load-of-fun and I’ve met some really brilliant people. It’s eased off tenfold. I rarely do HST girl shoots. Life is busy. I had a great time doing it but it’s nearing the end I think. I don’t have the dedication to it as I once did. We will still publish artists and new writers but the flame of HST is a cooling ember.
When did you first start reading poetry?
I started reading poetry when I discovered Bukowski. I was traveling Europe and a service man from the states said that I reminded him of Buk. I got hold of Buk’s stuff and have never looked back. I don’t read much poetry these days but I’m obsessed with novels.
The book is always better than the film because it’s your perspective of the story. No visuals, no skeleton. Film for me was like someone showing me a hallway whereas reading felt like being led down a hallway, I got to see it in my own way. Same with sex poems, give the bones but don’t literally give the bone. It’s literature, not porn. Subscribe to The Morning Email.Wake up to the day’s most important news.
You’ve just become a first-time father at age 32. And?
My wife gave birth to my first child 4 months ago. Little dude. We named him Hunter after Hunter Thompson. That will be an interesting conversation when I tell him about his namesake. But the guy was a hell of a human and an animal of a writer. As you can imagine my son is now my world. It makes me nervous that one day he will read my work.
Recently I got to collaborate with Ben John Smith on a beautiful art-book collated by German artist Jan van Rijn. The art-book is titled In The Woods & On The Heath. It’s a collaboration from writers around the globe including feminist icon Annie Sprinkle.
Ben John Smith is an underground talent in Australia.
In Ben’s own words: “I think I’m much easier to like as an online idea, not as a real human being.”
Sorry Ben but we disagree!
You can learn more about Ben’s work through the links below: