Christopher Sweeney

Photo by Leonore Gray


Biographic Sketch


Christopher Sweeney is a poet-scholar who is a founding member of The Corresponding Society and an editor of Correspondence. He graduated from the Pratt Institute's undergraduate writing program in 2009, where he studied poetry with supplementary concentrations in French and continental philosophy. He is a student of several languages and has published his translations of writers such as Stéphane Mallarmé. He currently lives in Westchester County, New York and teaches expository writing in the Bronx. The academic and historical conversations developed in his verse, along with his careful prosody and meticulous attention to craft, have prompted some to label the work neo-formalist. His understanding of different poetic traditions spans back much farther than most contemporary writers. He mentioned this conflict in a 2008 interview: "I think there needs to be a more effective engagement with the historical tradition of poetry, and I think there’s just a fundamental danger with attempting to found your poetics solely on the current decade or two of work." The thematic concerns, sentimental and profound, typical of his poetry reflect Sweeney's interest in philosophy and theology. His major long-form poem "Face" will be published in the book Into, from Seven Circles Press, which is a shared volume with Robert Snyderman and Lonely Christopher. In the introduction to Into, Greg Afinogenov writes that the author of "Face" "is especially influenced by Martin Heidegger, who envisions the poet as occupying a privileged position of access to unchanging and ineffable Being.  Yet this position is not taken for granted in Sweeney’s work. Rather, the poet’s role in the world—and its potentially liberating or mystical implications—is always treated as a problem, one which can be approached most closely by and within the medium itself. His poems are accordingly not about his own clarity of insight and profundity of vision; they deal instead with hesitation, confusion, and obscurity, the doors of perception never quite becoming cleansed."