"And, I also know that one of the difficult things about growing up was that I thought I wasn’t allowed to be the person I was on the interior, outside."

~Cortney Lamar Charleston in conversation with Julian Randall in The Rumpus

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"Outside, I have my abled body, my dark complexion, my lack of height, etc. I know that’s read in a certain way and it can be weaponized against me and in some other ways I can weaponize it. On the inside, I have no intention of picking up a weapon against anybody or anything, but because there is this threat lurking there’s no bridge for the inside to get outside without being thrashed (1/2)

~Cortney Lamar Charleston

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" and it creates this doublethink, this entirely different mode of being and thinking that comes to inhabit my body in a weird way as well which can be a threat, not necessarily to others but to myself. The poems are grappling with what happens if I become too defensive, relying on the mask so much that it becomes hard to take off at all. (2/2)

~Cortney Lamar Charleston

"If you’re looking at what that means specifically for Black children, it’s the fact you’re going to live through childhood like anyone else. Children are inquisitive, vulnerable, and observant but at the same time, when you’re dealing with Blackness and all that that comes with the history, the present, the specter of environment, Black children learn they have to learn differently than how other kids learn. (1/2)

~Cortney Lamar Charleston

" You learn the world works in a different way and because of that, you pick up habits and those habits become a part of your behavior and some of that inquisitiveness goes by the wayside. You become hardened, and eventually you have to reckon with what are the things that you picked up that are you and what is something else." (2/2)

~Cortney Lamar Charleston

"I’m a deeply sensitive but also insecure person who is often fearful of being vulnerable. Vulnerability is easiest for me in small spaces; the more people that there are around me the more I feel the desire to put the mask on, to perform. What I desire in intimacy is the ability to kind of strip all that off. The natural thing then is to reduce the number of people who surround me as much as possible."

~Cortney Lamar Charleston

"Everything is conquest, conquest and violence in everything; that’s the language that’s given to us."

~Cortney Lamar Charleston

"I became more accepting of this idea that the form a poem takes in all its facets need only to serve that single poem, and I’ve grown to care little about how orderly a read looks or feels across the collection from poem to poem." (1/2)

~Cortney Lamar Charleston

"The muck, in many ways, feels more honest, more authentic to my mind personally and to the lives we live generally; it doesn’t represent a lack of refinement, a lack of discipline, or a lack of consideration. If I can’t have fun on the page, what’s the point? I don’t need to be reminded I’m a serious dude. I need to be reminded I’m alive." (2/2)

~Cortney Lamar Charleston, this is the interview btw: therumpus.net/2021/02/the-rump

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