with Chris L. Butler (@CLBPoetry)
Q1: When did you start writing and first influences and biggest influences currently?
Chris: I began my writing journey in the nineties as a child. I was mostly a notebook poet growing up. I rarely wrote nonfiction outside of journaling. In my teens, I was more prone to writing short stories, fanfiction, poems, and raps. As I got into my twenties I knew I wanted to write more poetry, but I also grew an interest in nonfiction through blogging. After a sports blog and a pop culture blog, I shifted fully into poetry and creative nonfiction as primary genres.
Q2: Any pivotal moment when you knew you wanted to be a writer?
Chris: I’ve always wanted to be a writer. I did not take it seriously though until a few years ago. Prior to this, it was more of a hobby or creative outlet. Even when I was blogging (2011-2018), I was not holding myself accountable in the way that I am now.
Q3: Who has helped you most with writing?
Chris: I’m not sure there is a “most” for anyone as far as direct help goes. I’ve been blessed with a village. What I will say is, I have writers and editors who I’ve connected with that have helped me grow. Some that come to mind are Randall Horton, Quintin Collins, Laure-Anne Bosselaar, Iain Haley Pollock, Daniel Peña, Jane Creighton, Denzel X. Scott, Lynne Schmidt, Samantha Jones, Reggie Johnson, and Anne Marie Oomen. On the editing side definitely Christopher Margolin, Bradley Galimore, and Jeni De la O.
Q4: Where did you grow up and how did that influence your writing & did any travels away from home influence your work?
Chris: I love this question because it is more direct than “where are you from?” I was born and raised in West Philadelphia. It has influenced my writing a great deal as I’ve published a poem called “It’s Not Always Sunny in Philadelphia,” and a genre buster called “JAWN: A Philadelphian Lyric.” Travels away from home don’t influence my work as much as some others but that is probably because I’ve lived a lot of places. These places have inspired new work.
Q5: What do you consider your most meaningful work you’ve done creatively so far to you?
Chris: At this stage in my career, I would have to say my micro-chapbook BLERD: ’80s BABY, ’90s KID (Daily Drunk Press, 2021). I co-won my first contest when this was a manuscript, and it has created so many beautiful memories for me since that. For example, I got to perform on various virtual stages with writers like Mahogany Browne, Khalisa Rae, and Meg Pillow. This chapbook was also listed as one of the 300 poetry collections to read in 2021 by The Kenyon Review. It has been amazing to be recognized for my poetry.
Q6: Favorite activities to relax?
Chris: Cycling, mindfulness meditation, listening to hip hop, watching the NBA, and hiking
Q7: What is a favorite line/stanza from a poem of yours or others? Or share are link to a favorite artwork or video.
Chris: “Dinosaurs in the Hood” by Danez Smith is easily one of my favorite poems of all time. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5BXRENTIqRg
Q8: What kind of music do you enjoy? Favorite musical artists, influences, songs that inspire?
Chris: Most people who know me and my work know that hip hop has a major influence on me. But I also love so many other genres. I like almost everything including Ellington, Frédéric Chopin, The Doors, Madonna, Baltimore Club Music, Jah Shaka, and Anita Baker. My musical palette is diverse.
Q9: Any recent or forthcoming projects that you’d like to promote?
Chris: My second chapbook is titled Sacrilegious. It comes out on December 1st of this year with Fahmidan Publishing & Co. I’m so excited to unveil this project to the world. It explores growing up in a religious household during the golden era of hip hop. It is a chapbook of free verse and form poetry, with erasures of popular songs from Tupac’s first album, 2pacalypse threaded throughout it. It has been 25 years since he died, and 30 since that album. I wanted to do something to commemorate that as well.
Bio: Chris L. Butler is an African American and Dutch poet and essayist from Philadelphia and Houston. He is the author of the micro-chapbook BLERD: ’80s BABY, ’90s KID (Daily Drunk Press), and the forthcoming chapbook Sacrilegious (Fahmidan Publishing & Co.). He is the 2021 Kurt Brown Fellow for Diverse Voices in the Solstice MFA Program at Pine Manor College. His work can be found in APIARY Magazine, The Canadian Journal of Poetry & Critical Writing, Trampset, and others. He currently lives and writes from Western Canada. His work has been nominated twice for the Pushcart Prize, and once for the Best of the Net Anthology.
Book link: BLERD: ’80s BABY, ’90s KID (Daily Drunk Press, 2021) https://www.amazon.com/BLERD-80s-BABY-90s-KID/dp/B09CCC9WL7