What drew you to Waterline’s blues-themed event?
I think “blues” is a feeling and a sound that has permeated my life and my writing for as long as I can remember. I might not have always recognized that, but as I get older, I notice it more and more. This event sounded like something new for me but also a chance to share some of my writings inspired by blues music and poetry.
How does the blues influence your writing style?
I don’t write as much rhyming poetry as I used to, but I do like rhythmic patterns in my poems or a sense of a beat or cadence to the words. “Blues” as a concept carries grief, longing, and invocations, and I think I often write blues-inspired poems without even realizing that’s what I’m doing.
How did the blues, or a particular musician or song, inspire the work you will present at Waterline?
My hometown of Richmond, Indiana, is the cradle of recorded jazz, but some blues musicians also recorded here. One that really fascinated me was Blind Lemon Jefferson. He makes appearances of one sort or another in two of the poems I’ll read at Waterline. His classic “See That My Grave Is Kept Clean” should sound mournful—and it does—but there’s also this sort of appreciation of life and a desire to be honored for a life lived, even if you die destitute and aren’t remembered by anyone but the one who cleans your grave. I think my poems show that contrast between hope and regret—but also a longing to be memorialized in some way, which most of my poems do.
Christopher Stolle’s writing has appeared most recently in Tipton Poetry Journal, Flying Island, Edify Fiction, Contour, The New Southern Fugitives, The Gambler, Gravel, The Light Ekphrastic, Sheepshead Review, and Plath Poetry Project. He works as an acquisitions and development editor for Penguin Random House, and he lives in Richmond, Indiana.
For more information about the Waterline event: https://www.facebook.com/events/284815468721231/