By Kiyanna Noel
The English Department at SUNY Plattsburgh hosted a book signing event for English professor Christopher Locke’s book “Without Saints: Essays” Oct. 5 in Wilson Commons of Champlain Valley Hall. He was introduced by fellow English colleague Dr. Anna Barrigelli to the audience of eight students and faculty. The book was published by Black Lawrence Press.
Locke, who is from New Hampshire and received his Master of Fine Arts at Goddard College, currently teaches at SUNY Plattsburgh and at North Country Community College. His book represents parts of his life throughout the years.
The blurb says, “‘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.”
The book travels through time to show different stages, challenges and happy endings.
He started the reading by thanking the audience for attending and explaining the difference between chapter books and his memoir. Locke read four different passages of his book starting off with the relationship between him and his family and ending with his teachings at a prison and his relationship with the inmates over time.
“The first piece is called ‘Pieces’ and it’s kind of like a microcosm of the book itself. It’s these small little snapshots of my mom and her story, and I thought I can’t really tell my story without first telling hers,” Locke said.
This piece shows the audience a peek into his home life and how it shaped his life today and the lessons he learned.
The second piece is called “Unforgettable,” and it references the relationship between a father and his sons as well as how greed plays a role in making hard earned money. The short essay shows how it can pay off to be honest and how greed can consume.
The third piece is called “Friction” and it references self harm during high school years. The story shows how Locke was always a rebellious kid and committed self-harm as a way to impress others.
The last one is called “Corrections.” This piece is about his position at a federal prison to teach inmates about poetry and forms of literature. The piece goes on to explain the rules while being in a federal prison and the information you can and can’t tell the inmates. However, this piece ends with Locke exposing his first name to one of the inmates he truly had a connection with.
The book signing ended with questions for the author about the title, and the cover art as well as a gracious “thank you” from the English Department.