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Christopher Luna reads "Right Off (After Miles)" with harpist Jennifer Pratt-Walter

Christopher Luna reads "Right Off (After Miles)" with harpist Jennifer Pratt-Walter

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Slow Blogging: An Anti-Vertigo Pro-Kindness Birthday Message



43 today. Lucky seven. I am a terrible blogger; if I post here once a month, I consider myself to be on a roll. This does not mean that I do not have an online presence. I communicate with many people, in a variety of ways, every day. I put a lot of time and energy into organizing events and keeping people informed about the local poetry scene.

Like many writers, I’m compelled toward graphomania. I read and write constantly. I filter and attempt to comprehend most of my experiences through words. I am also a verbal processor, sorting through, arranging, analyzing, and evaluating my thoughts on the spot, as I tell you about them. It has occurred to me in the last few years that witnessing this, or trying to converse with me during this process, probably feels like being caught up in a tornado. I hereby apologize to anyone I may have overwhelmed. The reason I don’t blog about personal matters more often is that I believe that there is something wise and sane about allowing thoughts to percolate before sharing them with the world. (Have you read the comments on any news article recently? I refuse. Takes about thirty seconds to devolve into hateful idiocy.) There are plenty of people, places, and things that irritate me, and if I immediately posted about all of them I would constantly be at war. I believe in trying to put as much love out into the world. If I called out every person who tried to destroy me or hang me up with their bullshit, I would just be playing into their childishness and adding to the melodrama. I have made that mistake too many times before.

One of the great things about the writing process is letting the piece sit and returning to it with a new set of eyes. Re-vision is crucial, even when only minor changes have been made. So I try not to spew. It’s too easy.

This post is more about taking stock.

Some love birthdays and some hate them. As we age, each one is a reminder that we are older than we were before. I suppose that can be terrifying. Occasionally, the thought that all this is going to come to an end at some point makes me sad, or frightened. It is important to remain in the moment. It is also important to take care of yourself.

This year my bad habits caught up with me. I had been eating a lot of junk food, and not exercising, and I gained even more weight. Someone my size can’t afford to gain any. I am larger than I have ever been. Some of my clothes no longer fit. More importantly, I have high blood pressure, and this year I finally began to feel the burden of the weight in my back, in my chest. I have been watching what I eat, and am exercising again, so I’m back on track. But I was scared. I want to be around to watch my son grow. I have more poems to write. I want to experience more of this amazing adventure. This year my body screamed at me that it is time to get my shit together or die.      

I am overextended. I am the busiest underemployed person I know. Perhaps this is because I understand that it is important to do things that I love, and to do things for their own sake. We live in a culture which judges the worth of people, places, and things by how much money they generate. This approach destroys lives, destroys souls. I abstain. I endeavor to live, and to enjoy life. I try to have something to say. I try to add truth and beauty to the mix, rather than contribute more vitriol to an already toxic public discourse.

One matter that has caused some misunderstanding and hard feelings for certain insecure people in my life is the fact that what I do is who I am. There is no separation between my art and my life. They have been integrated for me since childhood. This is why the people who are closest to me need to understand that this path chose me, and I must see it through. I am not a writer because I want to be. I am compelled to document the world as I see it. To document my struggle to understand it all. I am compelled to make some sense of it all, and to share what I’ve learned with others.


Toni Partington and Christopher Luna
Self Portrait outside Ben, Kiki, and Aristotle's guest house
Orcas Island, WA
August 2014 


I am fortunate to finally have a partner who respects me, who believes in me, who helps me, and does not try to change me into something that I am not. Toni Partington is the love of my life. No one else makes me laugh the way she does. No one else understands what makes me who I am.

No one else spends as much time thinking about what I need. I have never met a more nurturing person. Along with being a great artists and writer, Toni takes very good care of me and my son. She cooks us incredible meals and works hard to create a sanctuary in our home. Before I got together with Toni, I did not even possess the concept of sanctuary, did not even realize that it is something to strive for.

She is incredibly smart and reliable. She has helped me to improve Ghost Town Poetry Open Mic, she has designed all of our books, and she has kept me grounded and humble as my work in the community has led to life as a public figure. It is a great privilege to serve the poetry community, and to set the stage for great art events to occur. Toni keeps me honest, and prevents me from letting it all go to my head. Toni makes sure that I do not become an asshole.

We will be married next summer. We have finally started planning the ceremony, and it has brought us closer together.  We have been doing things differently for seven years, and I love her more every day.

Unlike me, Toni prefers to stay out of the spotlight. However, when she steps into the light, the strength of her words and images blow people away. Just the other night, I watched her kill at a gig where several people (including the host) rudely scrolled their smartphones throughout the reading. It didn’t matter; Toni’s enthusiasm and poignant social commentary won them over. When we traveled to Auburn for the Auburn Days festival in August, she came home with the first prize in their open mic poetry contest.

Toni and I are very different writers, both in our approach and our content. Still, we have learned from one another, and we support one another, cheer each other on to move forward and improve.

I am also blessed with a family who supports me, even though we are far away from one another. My parents may not always understand everything I’m into, but they have always let me know that they support me, and that they are proud. Each one of my brothers and sisters is a good person who has built an amazing life. I marvel at all that they have accomplished. I am so happy that each of them has managed to do this and also be kind. When we were growing up, we fought a lot. When we got into our teens and twenties, we began hanging out as friends. I was quite surprised that they admired me, rather than resenting me for getting to do everything first. The gift of their friendship is one of the many blessings in my life.

My best friend Barbara is an honorary Luna. She had a tough year, and still managed to be there for me, even though she had close friends and family in crisis. Barbara is a healer. She actually lays hands on people. She doesn’t take any shit from anyone. She’s hilarious. And she’s one of the most open-hearted people I have ever known. She is my most loyal and oldest friend who still talks to me. We have known each other for almost three decades. I miss her every day. I don’t know what I’d do without her.

Christopher and Angelo Luna at the Tardis Room
Father's Day 2014

My son Angelo is a marvel. I could not be prouder of the young man he has become. He is smarter and more stable than I was at his age. He is a gamer who enjoys anime and Doctor Who, and he wants to be a psychologist. He is a Wiccan who sings and writes beautifully. Most importantly, he is still sweet. We are surrounded by negativity and hate; it is challenging to hold onto the lovingkindness that exists within all at birth. When he was a child, I asked him to stay sweet, because we need more love in this world. I’m proud to say that he took that advice to heart. Angelo started high school just a few days ago. I can’t wait to see what new experiences life has in store for him.

We watch a lot of movies together, and take walks. He really opens up when we are side by side, in the car or on the trail. He is very tolerant of my circular thought process and monkey mind. Even after all these years, he insists upon the Socratic method of communication. If I want to know anything, I have to ask questions. While this is not how everyone communicates, it is great practice for the artist. In my opinion, the answers we receive are not as important as asking the right questions.    
   
My big mouth can get me into trouble. I have hurt people over the years. It can be hard to balance my principles with the need to be kind and compassionate. In my twenties, I alienated and drove away three of my best friends. I said things I shouldn’t have. I was self-righteous and judgmental. I was an asshole. I don’t blame them. I miss them. I think about them every day.

I still have trouble dealing with the passive aggressive form of communication that is preferred in the Pacific Northwest. I still rail against the terrible drivers out here. I am still frustrated by people who do not do what they say they are going to do. I still miss New York every day. Still, there are many people and places to appreciate.

I love the poetry community, despite occasional ego flare-ups and inconsiderate behavior. I love watching people come alive at the mic, as they bask in the love of fellow word lovers. There is nothing like making yourself vulnerable before a room full of people who actually want to hear what you have to say. People who desire to know the contents of your heart, and will not judge you for them.

I have enjoyed all the new people I have met as Poet Laureate, and all the interesting places the position has taken me. I am grateful to everyone who has supported my many activities, and everyone who has come out to my performances. I am grateful to the many musicians who have played with me this year; talented professionals who were willing to show up, have fun, and make me look good despite the fact that there’s no money in poetry. Reading my poetry with musical accompaniment is my favorite way to present my work, and I look forward to doing more of it in the future.

I love the Vancouver poetry and arts community. I am inspired by your work, and the beauty you bring into the world through your dance, stories, poems, paintings, and songs. I will continue to seek ways to better serve you, to make Ghost Town, USA safe for poetry.

I am a rich man, and I am surrounded by beauty.     

Saturday, April 5, 2014

"A Lot of Art is Simply Being a Loudmouth"





Sue Graham Mingus on her husband Charles: “See, his motives are right. This is the whole thing. See, the means he uses can be outrageous. If you were to look at the way he does a lot of things you might say, ‘What the hell, this is impossible. You know, you can’t deal with people on this level.’ But his motives are always right, and I think that’s what people respect about him; and they understand that maybe he doesn’t handle things the best way, but they know it’s from the heart and they simply put up with it….Most people don’t live as full a life as Charles does. He is inhibited about very few things, and he lives out his feelings, he lives out his doubts, he lives out his angers. See, most of us have learned to curb certain things, control certain things….That’s partly what an artist does anyway. You know, a lot of art is simply being a loudmouth. Saying everything, spitting it all out, getting out all your feelings, examining them—and eventually certain truths become apparent. You know, most people don’t expose themselves all the time, but that’s how you do find art. You know, it can be at the expense of a lot of people around you when you are doing this, but this is an artistic need.” From John F. Goodman’s Mingus Speaks, University of California Press, 2013.   

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Shaking Hands, a new Pulitzer Remix E-Chapbook by Christopher Luna and Josh Medsker


Twenty Four Hours Zine presents Shaking Hands, a new e-chapbook featuring poems from Christopher Luna's April 2013 Pulitzer Remix of Norman Mailer's The Executioner's Song, and Josh Medsker's remix of Upton Sinclair's Dragon's Teeth. Cover by Justin Bacolo: