The following interviews of Chris Crittenden by Lois P. Jones originally aired on KPFK Los Angeles (reproduced with permission and thanks to producer Marlena Bond).
Artist Statement—Chris Crittenden
My poetry is fueled by two things: an intense worship of the depth of words and a fervent quest to overwhelm social apathy. It intolerably shocks me that a nuclear bomb could go off, sparking stock market crashes and a civil slide; and yet our hallowed institutions play dumb, as do most all of us in our unelected and unenviable roles as bipedal ants. There is an antidote for anthood. Empathy. Empathy and its ingredient passion. Empathy that cracks denial. Passion that pulls life into roseate, lime, tangerine, or any other chakra-worthy color. Poems do not need to wax political to stimulate healing; but they must be brutal or sublime while focusing on what I call “the miracle of the simple.” One of my favorite inspirations is the physiognomy of a leaf. The endless ways it can ramify into profound metaphors. Joy and lachrymosity await in the humble flutter of a single green wing lost to its own Sufi-dance. The bravest bard swings round on the wheel of life, euphoric with youth, whirling through frissons. One moment, celebration. The next, despair. What a journey, rolling along in candid odyssey, chasing a sob. The Muses demand it, especially in these times, when humanity straddles ominous achievements, one leg resting on hope, the other doom. If you are brave enough to see this bifurcation when you look at a dancing leaf, you are no longer an inmate in purgatory, but rather a most special and needed guide.
Idealism (not another name for quixotism) has torn me away from the safe path all my life. After thirteen years on a suicide hotline, I earned a Ph.D. in philosophy, focusing on feminist issues and the environment; but few universities were hiring ecofeminists, so I turned to poetry. A wrenching decision. After so much training and fondness for the discipline, why stray? And yet–I must! Our new home was over a hundred years old, falling apart in an impoverished corner of Maine. After nine years, I am still immersed in poemcraft. Obsessed and enflamed. Many of my hermit tantrums take place in a hut in a remote spruce forest (though two months a year I visit my father in Los Angeles, awed and rankled by the seamless cubism). Great luck has made these some of the best years of my life. I was fortunate enough to have married the most amazing woman, a clay artist and dreamer of peace, a courageous and beautiful soul, a laugh-loving and tapestry-weaving goddess. With her help, I grew stronger. I now have hundred of poems published, many in academic or well-know independent journals. My work has been featured and reviewed by fine editors. My interviews on KPFK must have reached thousands of ears. These interviews constitute my most magical and unforgettable moment on the public stage. Still, being a poet is a vicious struggle, both psychically and financially. I’ve learned to be grateful for what I have for as long as I have it, and to find sustenance in creating and perfecting, a process that can sometimes take years.
List of Selected Publications
Chelsea, Atlanta Review, Blue Unicorn, Epicenter, Lullwater, Harpur Palate, Hurricane Review, Kennesaw Review, Octavo, Poesy, MacGuffin, Potomac Review, Ellipsis, Evansville Review, Plainsongs, Mother Earth Journal, California Quarterly, Home Planet News, Arsenic Lobster, Poem, Rose & Thorn, Offcourse, Barnwood, MiPoesias, Nexus, DMQ Review, Merge Poetry, Drunken Boat, Switchback, Raving Dove, Rougarou, Temenos, Ballard Street, Blueline, Quicksilver, Mannequin Envy, Thieves Jargon, Centrifugal Eye
Link to Gordian Butterfles:
Link to the review of Gordian Butterflies: