Evolve Benton, a queer, black, artist, poet and South Central Los Angeles native whose harrowing life experience – from growing up in poverty, violence, losing a parent and becoming homeless in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina - inspired a fearless and unapologetic outlook on life. Evolve’s saving grace throughout childhood was being surrounded by strong role models – motivated, confident black women and men - caretakers, nurses, cooks – fearless souls who inspired Evolve to speak out and stand up for those who are marginalized and oppressed. Evolve wrote hip-hop lyrics and freestyled in middle school. Evolve wrote their first poem in the 10th grade about their first love, a girl they went to school with that broke Evolve’s heart. That was the beginning of them using poetry to heal and showcase their vulnerability. Evolve went on to host regular poetry nights in college.
Evolve has a bachelor of arts in communications from Dillard University (2008) and a master of arts in clinical psychology with an lgbt specialization (2012), as well as a master of fine arts in creative writing (2018) from Antioch University of Los Angeles. The resilience and power of Evolve’s poetry soon caught the attention of many and their writing has appeared in the Dillard Review (2008), Trans bodies, Trans Selves (2014) and Outside the XY: Black and Brown Masculinity (2016). Evolve also served as a poetry copy editor on the literary journal, Lunch Ticket. While Evolve’s experience as a black queer poet has been challenging it has resulted in deeply rewarding self-resilience and a search for the authentic self.
As a poet, Evolve’s reading style is lyrical, strong and vulnerable, interwoven with glimpses of a compelling life journey. Audiences have said listening to Evolve causes them to think, pause and take a step back; inducing a reaction and inciting a strong desire to create change. Evolve hopes to perform poetry around the world and eventually, establish a literary organization to help queer and trans folks of color become better writers and build their own brand. Evolve enjoys speaking, curating art and healing spaces with/for community and watching the Los Angeles Lakers.