#HowIMadeIt 2017

Sabrina Benaim, Poet

FLARE #HowIMadeIt celebrates 100+ talented, ambitious and driven Canadian women with cool jobs. Want what Sabrina has? Here's how she did it

Sabrina Benaim Headshot

Sabrina Benaim; Toronto; @badass_sab

Let’s say we’ve just met at a cocktail party. How would you describe, in a nutshell, what you do?

Hi! I’m Sabrina. I’m a poet. Some days I go into schools and perform, or teach a workshop. Some nights I get onstage in a theatre, or a bar, or a burrito shop and read deeply personal poems for strangers. Once, I wrote an Olympic commercial that aired nationally. Most of the time, I am somewhere in the clouds, writing in my notebook.

Where did you go to school and what did you study?

I am a Seneca College creative advertising drop-out

What was your BIG break? How did you land it?

Well, it was more of a BIG breakdown! While competing in the semi-finals at the National Poetry Slam, when I performed my poem, “Explaining My Depression To My Mother,” for the first time, while low-key panicking. A couple of months later, that performance was put up on Button Poetry and went viral. To date, it has garnered over five million views!

Describe the moment in which you first realized, I think this is actually going to work out?

There are a handful of moments that have felt like keys being handed to me for the next door. For each of those, I am grateful. I can’t imagine I will ever feel confident this is going to work out, which I think is part of the thrill of being an artist. It’s a lifestyle that asks you to be inventive with your definition of success. That being said, my collection of poems, Depression & Other Magic Tricks, was released this August, and holding it in my hands for the first time felt Very Good. It’s also been named one of Indigo’s ‘Books of the Month’ for September.

What would you say has been your biggest failure or shortcoming, career-wise, to date? How did you bounce back?

I went to the wrong city for a show on my last tour. Big time oops. I immediately sent an extremely apologetic email and promised them one heck of a show in the future.

Name one piece of career advice you always give.

I don’t give career advice often, but ‘Don’t be afraid to say no’ was said recently to me, and I think that is invaluable.

What’s the worst career advice you’ve ever gotten?

To “get a real job.” *eye roll emoji*

Did you deal with barriers in your field because you are a woman? If so, what were they?

I write about my feelings almost exclusively. Once I wrote a poem about football, after performing it, a male poet came up to me and said, “It was weird to hear you read that while wearing lipstick.” So, you know, that pesky barrier, sexism, present as ever.

Are you making a fair income for your work? Why or why not? Do you have a side hustle for extra cash? If so, what is it?

I’m extremely grateful to be in at a place in my life where people want to read my poetry. My income comes from a collection of hustles all waltzing together at once. Sometimes there are many feet, and during those times, I splurge on dessert.

What’s the worst stereotype you’ve heard about millennials at work?

*side eye emoji*

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