by Dave Warner

She was born in California and raised on Long Island, but now she’s in Little Falls and making her mark in the world of art and poetry. Natasha Bender’s mother was a single mom until she was about 7 1/2 and she traveled a lot for work. “I actually joke that I fell in love with my dad before my mom did,” she said. “She was always trying to set him up with her girlfriend.”

“She settled down with him, had four children, and I spent my time growing up in Long Island, but I always had an affinity for California,” she said.

At 27 she was working with a national company and was able to request a transfer to the San Diego office. She spent six years out there, had a daughter, but wanted to come back to Long Island to be closer to family. “Wanting to come back, but not be sucked back into that negative vortex of energy that exists in Long Island, I thought – where can I land that’s within a five-hour radius?”

She said that she searched everywhere that you can imagine, and no place quite felt like home. “I didn’t want to be lost in a metropolis, but I also didn’t want to be in a very rural area without the amenities that I’m used to. I wanted to have a grocery store, a drug store, and a movie theater. The things that make life more comfortable,” she stated.

She said that she came across a website that showcased the Canal Celebration and as soon as she saw the photographs of the event, it just resonated with her. She said, “This is it, this is it. This is what I’ve been looking for.”

So, site unseen, she contacted a real estate agent and started looking for a house in Little Falls. She moved here just before Christmas in 2014 and closed on her house in February of 2015.

The first couple of years in the City, she was a stay at home mom. “I really wanted to make sure that I gave my daughter a different experience growing up. I wanted her to always have me around and I didn’t want to miss any important events in her childhood,” she said.

Once her daughter was in kindergarten, she went to work as a legal secretary for Malone and Malone on Main Street.

However, Bender has always been a writer, ever since she was a child. “I’ve been fascinated by it since I was 2 1/2 years old. I started teaching myself by taking my mother’s magazines and copying the writing verbatim from them. I’ve always had a love and a passion for art and language and culture. My artform always translated into poetry.”

She said that she’s always kept a journal and has written poetry in it. In junior and senior high school, she would sit in the bay windows of her house and just write for hours. “It wasn’t until this year that I took my craft into spoken word. In January I joined the Utica Poets Society and finally took the leap of really sharing my art form with the world,” she stated.

She said that was a great first leap for her because she was able to connect with other poets in the area and started doing open mic events.

For the video (below), she had gone to see her brother in Long Island. “We were just putzing around in the basement and he had written a piece and was getting ready to record his spoken word and it just happened so divinely because the same afternoon I had been putzing around with a piece. I literally wrote the first stanza in five minutes and then we tried recording it.”

They tried making a video, but it didn’t feel finished to her, so she wrote two more stanzas for it. “We then recorded it and it was very impromptu.”

She said, “Now my brother and I are collaborating and we are working on a passion project where we basically want to engage the niche community of the spoken word and we want to develop a social media platform where we can encourage and support a new dimension of spoken word art form. We’re currently working on that right now.”

She said that once it is ready, they will be posting video content on a regular basis, which is going to be a lot of work. “I think it’s worth it because it’s something that we’re so passionate about and its something where we both love to travel, so we’re thinking that if we can do a lot of destination videos, and be thinking outside the box, we’ll be able to relate our spoken word to the environment and open up a new avenue for artists to see how we can collaborate and create this new genre of spoken word.”

Her brother is more on the technical side, even though he is a poet himself, but he wants to create tutorials on how to put together videos like the one his sister is in. “He wants to explain the lighting, and the sound and the video production. How to record on a phone and how to monetize it in a way so that if you want that extra content you can pay a small fee to subscribe to us to get that expertise,” she stated.

“For me, I’m going to be taping on my phone for now,” she said. “We just want to inspire, empower, and create a new dimension to spoken word art. We want to create a space where people can come to be supported, and to be involved in an engaged community and to be involved in an artistic community.”


The Struggle of Light

Darkness tried to swallow her,
His desire so strong,
Her soul- his fuel.
Always made the object of his affection,
For the heat of her flame draws darkness close,
His cold paws clawing at her vapors,
Barely scratching her before she is whisked away.
Irritated, he wonders why she always manages an escape.

The aroma of her wax dripped candle fills the night sky:
Thick, warm, earthy, mysterious.
Gasping for oxygen –
Yet every time hope seems lost,
A warm breeze blows upon her,
Igniting her fire,
Whispering to her not to give up –
Trimming her wick,
And shielding her from the storms of darkness. For even when she burned so dimly,
Her breath slowing,
Her light tinkering,
She kept melting,
Stayed on her caretaker’s tender touch.
For she knew that her fire was greater
Than the darkness that tried to swallow her.

She blows in the wind,
And is not snuffed out.
She dances in wild harmony
With the flames placed beside her.
Together they are strong,
Together, they are beautiful.
Your eyes have never beheld the glory
Of their purest form energy.
Each one having escaped the reach of darkness,
And now brighter than ever
They sing their songs with outstretched arms,
The more they gather,
The farther darkness flees
Until all is calm,
And they have joined as one-
Ever loving and being consumed in love.