WITHOUT SAINTS is a breathtaking journey to rediscover hope between the ruins: Poet Christopher Locke was baptized by Pentecostals, absolved by punk rock, and nearly consumed by narcotics. Like Denis Johnson’s propulsive Jesus’ Son, Without Saints is a brief, muscular ride into the heart of American desolation, and the love one finds waiting for them instead.
“This slim volume of essays packs a dense punch, propelled, like a carnival ride, through Locke's Pentecostal upbringing to his years as a drug-experimenting teen punk, to his teaching career, family, and intermittent struggles with substance abuse. Every scene is taut, like a highwire, the only steady presence Locke's lyrical, quiet prose. Locke knows how to make the ordinary feel fantastical and the fantastical ordinary.” —Jen Michalski, author of The Tide King and The Summer She Was Under Water
“Haunting and understated, Christopher Locke chronicles the secrets that bedevil every extended family.” —David L . Marcus, winner of the Pulitzer Prize and author of What it Takes to Pull Me Through
“Christopher Locke’s WITHOUT SAINTS is an intimate and lyrical book of essays that begins with vivid and wondrous memories of childhood, into early adulthood’s ambivalence around a worrying drug use, into the intimacies of being a husband and a father. And finally, into two of the book’s knockouts: a beautiful remembrance of the poet and writer, Donald Hall, and a probing look at what it’s like to teach a creative writing workshop inside the walls of a federal prison. Locke’s writing is up close and personal and brave—always revealing, always acknowledging the tenderness and melancholy of living out loud.” —Michael Klein, author of Track Conditions
Literary Nonfiction. Essays.
Christopher Locke was born in New Hampshire and received his MFA from Goddard College. His essays and short fiction have appeared in The North American Review, The Sun, The Rumpus, Slice, JMWW, SmokeLong Quarterly, Barrelhouse, and Atticus Review, among others. He won the Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry Award, as well as grants in poetry from the Massachusetts Cultural Council and the New Hampshire State Council on the Arts. 25 TRUMBULLS ROAD, his first collection of fiction, won the Black River Chapbook Award. His latest collection of poetry MUSIC FOR GHOSTS (NYQ Books) was released in 2022. Chris lives in the Adirondacks and teaches English at SUNY Plattsburgh and North Country Community College.