Cortney Lamar Charleston is originally from the Chicago suburbs. He completed his undergraduate education at the University of Pennsylvania, earning a BS in Economics from the Wharton School and BA in Urban Studies from the College of Arts & Sciences. While attending Penn, he focused on the intersection of business and government and the physical and sociological construction of cities. Additionally, it was during this time he began writing and performing poetry as a member of The Excelano Project.
Charleston's academic background, coupled with his upbringing spent bouncing between Chicago’s South Side and its South and West suburbs undoubtedly influence his written work. Charleston’s poems grapple with race, masculinity, heteronormativity, class, family, faith and how identity is, functionally, a transition zone between all of these competing markers. Said differently, his poetry is a marriage between art and activism, a call for a more involved and empathetic understanding of the diversity of the human experience. This same line of thought frames his philosophy as Poetry Editor at The Rumpus. He also currently serves on the Alice James Books Editorial Board.
Cortney Lamar Charleston's poems have been published in a range of literary publications, including POETRY, New England Review, AGNI, TriQuarterly and River Styx. Charleston has been awarded a Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Fellowship from the Poetry Foundation as well as fellowships from Cave Canem, The Conversation Literary Festival and the New Jersey State Council on the Arts. His debut full-length poetry collection, Telepathologies, was selected by D.A. Powell for the 2016 Saturnalia Books Poetry Prize and released in March 2017.
2017 Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Fellow
2017 New Jersey State Council on the Arts Fellow
2016 The Conversation Literary Festival Fellow
2015 Cave Canem Foundation Fellow