Artist of the Week: Lonely Christopher, Death, Disaster, and Poetry

Poet (Death&Disaster Series) and film maker (MOM), Lonely Christopher shares his thoughts on death, writing spaces, and the psychogeography of living in Brooklyn. Here, he’s pictured in one of his favorite bookstores in NYC, Unnamable Books on Vanderbilt Ave. in Brooklyn.

Lonely Christopher at Unnamed Books

Tell us about your latest book.
Death & Disaster Series is my second book. It’s a collection of poetry that I wrote while my mother was battling late stage cancer and after she died. It was a very necessary thing for me to write—the only way I knew how to react to what was happening, which seemed so much larger than anything I had heretofore directly experienced. It’s an angry book screaming out for redemption. You can know more about it here.

Fill in the blanks. Writing is like _ _ _ _ _ because _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _.
Writing is like because.

Lonely Christopher at Unnamed Books

What do you like about living in Brooklyn? What do you hate about it?
As soon as I could choose where to live, I moved to Brooklyn. I’m really not sure what that’s about. It’s not contingent upon socioeconomic conditions that are subject to change. It’s something innate in the location itself, that has always been there and always will be. I’ve been homeless and slumming on couches and spare rooms in Flatbush. I’ve lived in a tenement in the barrio of Williamsburg, in basements and attics in ruined corners of Bed-Stuy, and now in an over-expensive walk-up on the border of hyper-gentrified Fort Greene. As long as I’m close enough to a 24 hour bodega and a cheap diner, I’m more or less content. I try to walk the streets as Whitman and then Crane walked them, despite how much the psychogeography of the place might have changed.

What I “hate” most about Brooklyn is the cost of living. Even if it is often seen as a “cheaper” alternative to Manhattan, it has developed into a borough that fosters economic oppression and disenfranchises and disincentives the lower and artist classes. It’s always a struggle living as a poet, and thus existing in a sort of gift economy, but worse when half of your income has to go to rent every month. It’s hard to complain when one lives where he needs to, though.

lonely christopher the wild mag

If you could read only three books for the next three years, what would they be?

If you are prepared to torture me, I might be able to provide an answer.

Do you have a specific process or routine when you work, or do you, as they say, “wait for the inspiration”?
I work in terms of projects. So most of what I write is already part of a manuscript, which has been preconceived to some extent. I work best at night. I used to write at my desk, but for the past few years I’ve been writing everything lying down in bed. The act of writing a draft is only part of the process. I go on very long walks and use the time to ask myself questions and think about what I’m doing. I don’t take notes very often and don’t write drafts longhand; I type everything out on the computer. While there is a lot of intellectualizing involved before and after, when I’m actually writing a first draft, it’s very automatic or trancelike. Then I have to step back from it and assess. I have a few trusted first readers I email work to. Even if they don’t have much to say about a particular piece, just having sent it to them can broaden or alter my perspective on it. Then I thoroughly edit everything before I submit it to a publisher. And if it’s going to print I work with editors and go through it all over again. Some ideas occur to me abruptly and already make sense; others I have to really work on and tease out and it takes a long time.

What is your WILD Wish?
My WILD Wish is freedom from want for all. Specifically, I work with underprivileged and homeless LGBT youth populations and would love to be out of a job. It’s upsetting that the desire to spare all children from misery and privation can be seen as radical, but that’s apparently an impractical goal and what I most want to see.

lonely christopher the wild mag

text by: Ori Oren

photography by: Ellinor Stigle










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