Cortney Lamar Charleston is originally from the Chicago suburbs. He completed his undergraduate education at the University of Pennsylvania as a member of the Class of 2012, earning a BS in Economics from the Wharton School and BA in Urban Studies from the College of Arts & Sciences; as a student, 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. His 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 matters of race, masculinity, class, heteronormativity, family, body, spirit 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.
Cortney Lamar Charleston's poems have been published in a range of literary publications, notably POETRY, New England Review, Gulf Coast, TriQuarterly and The Iowa Review. Individual poems have been nominated for the Pushcart Prize on several occasions, and he has received fellowships from Cave Canem, The Conversation Literary Festival and the New Jersey State Council on the Arts. His debut poetry collection, Telepathologies, was selected by D.A. Powell for the 2016 Saturnalia Books Poetry Prize and was a finalist in several other first book competitions. The book was released in March 2017.