Alumni Spotlight: Christopher Bakken '92

September 09, 2014

The Alumni Spotlight is a place to hear from the School of the Arts alumni community about their journeys as artists and creators.

Christopher Bakken '92 is the author of three books of poetry, most recently Eternity & Oranges (forthcoming, Pitt Poetry Series, 2016) and a book of travel writing called Honey, Olives, Octopus: Adventures at The Greek Table. He also co-translated The Lions' Gate: Selected Poems of Titos Patrikios. Bakken is Department Chair and the Frederick F. Seely Professor of English at Allegheny College.

Was there a specific faculty member or peer who especially inspired you while at the School of the Arts? If so, who and how?

Richard Locke's seminars in realism and postmodernism were crucial: The reading list from that course includes books that I still keep next to me when I write. Derek Walcott's course in Verse Drama was the single most important course I've ever taken, even if he made me play a corpse on stage during our reading of a Lorca play.

What were the most pressing social/political issues on the minds of the students when you were here?   

Protesting the first Gulf War (I was there from '90-'92) and the AIDS crisis in NYC.

If you could revisit any piece you created during your time at the School of the Arts, which would it be? Why?

My sonnet sequence about the George Washington Bridge, so I could burn it (I cannot be the only writer who wrote about the GW Bridge while attending Columbia, right?).

What was your favorite or most memorable class while at the School of the Arts?

Walcott (see above).

Read more from the Alumni Spotlight series