“In meditations ranging from a child’s incomprehension of a father’s violence to the suffering of those cast out for their sexual desires to the horror of mass shootings, the poems of Blood Aria pulse with an urgency that is both anguished and exalted. And transformative. To experience poems as passionate, as charged with wisdom as these is to enter into a kind of spiritual quest.” —Boyer Rickel
“An unflinching look at bigotries and violence seeded in western history, and it intertwines this with personal traumas, grief, and the winding path of finding one’s way. These masterfully wrought poems are as fierce as they are wise—they do not comfort but fortify. Nelson’s transporting voice will stay with me for a long time.” —Ye Chun
"In his powerful debut, Christopher Nelson examines the progenitors and forms of violence, from Cain and Abel to twenty-first century hate crimes. These spare poems depict pain with visceral sharpness, meditating on everyday moments—the damming of rivers, a father’s abuse of his son, children murdered in schools.
There is loneliness here—an empty gazebo, the blinking red light of a radio tower, the sad face of a jack-o-lantern—but there is also redemption. The poet reveals glimpses of his quest to find and know God, seeking answers everywhere—in Spanish cathedrals filled with holy relics or in withered winter fields. Throughout Blood Aria Nelson ruminates on the sacrament of passing one day to the next, asking how much it matters what we believe." —Ronald Wallace and Sean Bishop, editors, Wisconsin Poetry Series
Review: Publishers Weekly
Love Song for the New World
Love Song for the New World was selected by Ron Mohring for inclusion in the Seven Kitchens Press Editor's Series. Through examining the artwork in the Seville Cathedral, this long poem considers the erasures, complicities, and privileges of being of European descent in the "new world." At the foreground are religious figures and iconography that both present the possibility of interfacing with the divine and reinforce the millennia-old heteronormativity that presumed millions were unfit for the grace of God.
Capital City at Midnight
Capital City at Midnight was selected by Gabrielle Calvocoressi for the 2014 BLOOM Chapbook Prize for Poetry. In her judge's citation she writes, “There’s something about this voice that makes it impossible for me to put these poems down. It would be easy to say these are narrative poems, but that’s too simple and does them a disservice. These are poems that speak into you, they are worlds. Capital City at Midnight is a testament not merely to a poet whose poems I want to see more of but of a poet whose line I want to see more of. There are new structures being dreamt of here, no matter how traditional the poems look on the page. This is a blueprint for something remarkable that’s on its way.”
Blue House was selected by Mary Jo Bang for publication by the Poetry Society of America in 2009 as part of the New American Poets Chapbook Series. In her introduction Bang writes, "Christopher Nelson's poems brilliantly enact the Dickinsonian maxim (the maxim that this poetic age has taken to heart and writ large against the backdrop of postmodernism) to tell the truth but tell it slant. In that, he is little different from many of us. However (and it is a significant 'however'), what sets his poems apart and makes them inimitably his is that he invites the reader into a brazenly Freudian psychological landscape. And in we go—in horror, in fascination, in amusement, in respect, and in realization that Nelson has gotten it right. And moreover gotten it very right. And moreover yet, has gotten it very right with a minimum of words and with a great deal of white space. He renders moot all automatic contemporary readerly resistances: to high lyric notes (the lark), to poems about childhood (poetic childhood has rarely been represented so darkly), to words that have come to seem empty ('remember,' 'tender'). His is an intrepid imagination full of uncanny derring-do."