Christian J. Collier on Chasing Obsessions and Crafting Poetry as Film Directing
In Conversation with Alex Higley and Lindsay Hunter on I'm a Writer But
Welcome to I’m a Writer But, where two writers-and talk to other writers-and about their work, their lives, their other work, the stuff that takes up any free time they have, all the stuff they’re not able to get to, and the ways in which any of us get anything done. Plus: book recommendations, bad jokes, okay jokes, despair, joy, and anything else we’ve got going on that week. Hosted by Lindsay Hunter and Alex Higley.
On this episode, we’re joined by poet Christian J. Collier (The Gleaming of the Blade). Christian talks with us about the influence of art and horror films on his writing, moving away from overwriting, the shapes of his poems, using race as a way of looking at intimacy and society and humanity as a whole, monsters, ghosts, and more!
From the episode:
Christian J. Collier: I’m interested in writing things that challenge me and have a certain degree of resonance and force me to interrogate something. Which, I mean, is just chasing obsessions. That really is the scope the book fell under. I wanted to use race as a way of getting at a number of other things: intimacy, vulnerability. Regardless of what obsession I’m chasing, what I’m mainly interested in providing for an audience—whoever that ends up being—I’m trying to curate an experience.
I like to consider myself akin to a director on film. I am crafting the shot from poem to poem, line to line, for whoever’s on the other end of it. I want to put you as close to what’s going on as I can. I want you to feel the danger; you’re in the weeds of it. It’s three o’clock in the morning, you see the fog… I want you to experience these things.
Christian J. Collier is a Black Southern writer, arts organizer, and teaching artist who resides in Chattanooga, TN. He is the author of the chapbook The Gleaming of the Blade from Bull City Press. His works have appeared or are forthcoming in December, North American Review, Hayden’s Ferry Review, The Michigan Quarterly Review, and elsewhere. A 2015 Loft Spoken Word Immersion Fellow, he is also the winner of the 2022 Porch Prize in Poetry and the 2020 ProForma Contest from Grist Journal.