University of Georgia Press, forthcoming
Winner of the National Poetry Series

In his second collection, Christopher Kondrich navigates the link between what we see as our inner value and the external world that supplies it. Valuing’s deeply personal poems explore faith, love, ethics, and mortality from a variety of angles and through a variety of poetic forms as a means of questioning the origination of one’s own value system. Does it come from the belief in a god, from the love one gives or receives, or from the diminution of the self and its desires? If “you cannot sneak through your life,” as the speaker of one of Valuing’s poems proclaims, then how might one ensure that the noise a life inevitably makes is an echo of the values one holds dear? 

Selections from Valuing:

Boston Review

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Free Verse Editions, 2013
A New Measure Poetry Prize finalist

The poems in Christopher Kondrich’s first collection allude to contrapuntal composition by sustaining two voices and two distinct, but overlapping narratives. As described by Mark Strand in Boston Review, the first is allegorical, in which a piano-playing guru, a pharmaceutical cure-all, and the laboratory where it’s produced are all elements in the formation of a self-seeking unity. The other concerns two versions of a self—past and present—who merge in the voice of the poet. As it dismantles the wholeness of life to create the wholeness of art, Contrapuntal presents readers with a unique, challenging experience. 

Praise for Contrapuntal:

“In Contrapuntal, an enormously ambitious and masterful debut, Christopher Kondrich has shaped this material into a work of such inventiveness, wit, wisdom, bravura, tenderness and beauty, it leaves me in awe. Or rather, it brings me back to a level of awe I had forgotten I had access to, restoring to their original size my hopes for what a book of poetry might accomplish. I am inordinately grateful for this book.”   – Timothy Donnelly

“Before the book begins, the book begins, with contrapuntal movement: “So I take  my hand, / and even though I know my hand, / I know I know it, / it feels like your hand.” Throughout the remaining books of this book, a singular duality continues to play, and it is a play of the body, of hands—“I can feel the sounds / between my hands / as I clasp them to play.” In this latter poem, the play on “play” and “pray” is especially apt and emotionally wrought, and—caught up as it is with music, with playing of sounds into emotional sense—such play is both profound and continually delightful. This is a book that needs to be known.”   – Bin Ramke

“Christopher Kondrich’s Contrapuntal is an eerie world of dysymphony and desire, in which the actors have lost their way among objects and senses.  Scraps of sound and thought float free, unmoored from belief, and suggest we find a way to bring weight back to the human world. This is a strangely comforting dystopia, pleasing to linger in, a place made of mood and novelistic smoke, the characters in it so clearly our own.”   – Eleni Sikelianos

Reviews of Contrapuntal:

“The brilliance of Contrapuntal is realized through the relation that the poems bear to one another; within each of the book’s four sections, the succession of poems serves to deepen and enhance the overall thematization. Unlike a more loosely joined collection of poems, in which a topic is frequently viewed from a number of disassociated angles, Kondrich delves deeper and deeper from one poem to the next; his poems seem to burrow within mental obsession and neurosis, rather than providing a series of surface-level snapshots.” – The Rumpus

“Music has the uncanny ability to change our center of kinetic consciousness and Kondrich’s live performance recorded on the page harmonizes real time (experience as it occurs) with memorized time (experience as it is reproduced). It is our luck to be able to return to these lyrics over and over again.” – Jerry Magazine

Contrapuntal isn’t easy-listening poetry but perhaps, as Christopher Kondrich writes in one of his sophisticated poems, “a tenuous grasp is / enough.” If our future “is full of music,” we have time yet to tighten our grip, but also to recognize that the search is our sound—the melody that makes an already inspired collection sing.” – Heavy Feather Review

“Contrapuntal is not a book about diametrics, bipolarity, or extremes, but rather a sonic and sonorous exploration of the way music, sound, time, and relationships exist throughout the body, mind, and self. Such a read is what contemporary poetry is poised to accomplish, and Kondrich has a measured and meticulous style that winds well around the musical and interpersonal ideas he’s presenting here.” – The the Poetry Blog

Selections from Contrapuntal: 

Boston Review
Verse Daily