Arts / Community

Admission’s Christopher Blackman becomes a published poet

Christopher Blackman, Dana Hall’s Admission and Financial Aid Database Manager, recently published a book of poems, Three-Day Weekend, after winning the Gunpowder Press’s Dryden-Vreeland Book Prize

The judge, Nan Cohen, who selected Blackman as the winner of the book prize, said that “Christopher Blackman is alert to the ironies that link the comedy and tragedy of existence, yet his poems are never arch or brittle. […]By welcoming us with lucidity and candor into the particulars of someone else’s life; they end by handing us back our own lives, transformed.”

Mr. Blackman read two of the poems from his book during a Dana Hall Morning Meeting as part of the School’s National Poetry Month celebration in April. 

Looking up to poets such as Bob Hicok and Natalie Shapero, Mr. Blackman said, “The way that I came about [writing a book], and the way that I think most people come about it, is that they are just writing poems, and over a period of time, those poems, you come to see that they have connections in certain ways, and just like any artist, you have interests and obsessions, and things that you keep revisiting.”

His book title, Three-Day Weekend, was inspired by the labor movement in America.

“In America, the three-day weekend was the original intention of the labor movement. And the labor movement, people were killed, protesting, and one of the things they were trying to bargain for was the weekend,” he said. “Three-Day Weekend” is one of his favorite poems in his collection. He wrote it relatively late in the process, while sitting in traffic, going home from Dana Hall. “I was just thinking about the circumstances that led my family to be in this country. They left Eastern Europe after somebody burned their store down, and they came to the US. And just thinking about the resiliency and the sacrifice and then thinking about how annoyed I was that I was sitting in traffic, it put it in perspective, as to why I am even complaining.” 

His book of poems is separated into four chapters, which he describes in musical terms: “Really what it is is like four movements. They each have a rise and fall within each section that gives them variation, that allows for a broader range of textures, so it’s really like four movements of the same piece.” 

As humor is a main theme in the book, Mr. Blackman pays homage to a comedian, Groucho Marx, through his epigraph, “time flies like an arrow, fruit flies like a banana.” He admitted that “There is a good chance that Groucho Marx, the comedian who it’s attributed to, never said that. And I knew that from the start but I decided that I didn’t care, because it was too good to pass up. ‘Time flies like an arrow’ is very grand, and ‘fruit flies like a banana’ is, well, stupid.”

Mr. Blackman wanted to write poems that he would admire himself “because the fact is that you can’t write to any audience. Once it’s out there in the world, it belongs to whoever reads it.”

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