Christopher Kondrich, FCRH ’04, writes poetry that deals largely with human connection—our connections to each other and to the world around us.
In his newest collection of poems, Valuing—a 2018 winner of the National Poetry Series prize—he explores the personal value systems we form through these connections, and through the meanings we place on intangible concepts like faith, love, ethics, and mortality.
In “Asylum,” Kondrich writes, “I choose to love our auspices / because they brought us here, to love / disobedience because it shows the freedom / to love or not love. Or value.”
As one of five poets to win the National Poetry Series competition last year, Kondrich received a $10,000 cash prize and a contract with the University of Georgia Press, which published Valuing last month. The poet Jericho Brown selected Kondrich’s manuscript from more than 1,500 submissions, describing it as “a philosophical work of art,” with “potential for influence on poetry and on any mind made vulnerable to poetry.”
New Yorkers will have a chance to hear Kondrich read from his award-winning work at Fordham’s Lincoln Center campus at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 16, as part of the University’s 2019–2020 Poets Out Loud reading series. The event, which will also feature poet and memoirist Kenny Fries, is free and open to the public.
Attendees will find that Kondrich is unafraid to tackle big societal issues in his work, as he did with gun violence last April as part of the Academy of American Poets’ Poem-a-Day series. In “Common Things,” he wrote:
“Even if you do not own a weapon, you could. / And because of this you are complicit. / But you cannot do anything about most things. / You cannot put the arms back onto a statue / is another way of saying you can’t put a bullet back into a gun.”
Since 1992, Poets Out Loud (POL) has presented free public readings featuring dozens of emerging and renowned poets, including Pulitzer Prize winners Kay Ryan, Yusuf Komunyakaa, and Tyehimba Jess. The POL Book Series, run in coordination with Fordham University Press, issues two new full-length volumes of poetry each year.