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Drexel alum’s poetry receiving critical acclaim | The Triangle
Arts & Entertainment

Drexel alum’s poetry receiving critical acclaim

Taken by Janyra Santos

After years of ups and downs in Hollywood, Chris Courtney Martin ‘14 Drexel graduate has found their groove in writing poetry and prose.

Before Chris Courtney Martin received critical acclaim for their poetry books, before years of ups and downs in Hollywood, and before a short stint as an adult film writer (this will be discussed later), they were just another student at Drexel University, working the front desk at the DAC and writing for the Triangle. A former screenwriting and playwriting major, Martin knew from a young age that writing was what they were going to do with their life. “I’ve been writing since I was eight years old,” begins Martin, with their first story described as “a footrace between Dracula, The Wolfman, Mummy.” Martin continued to write through middle and high school, winning numerous awards and putting on productions at nearby Mastermen High School. 

From there, they received a full ride to attend Drexel and continue to hone their craft, a decision aided by Martin’s “obsession with Dragons,” but the full ride certainly did not hurt either. Martin “struggled at times” while at Drexel, both in regards to personal finances but also “just figuring out how to be an adult.” However, they eventually found their groove, with Martin excelling in the program and getting involved all around campus, all in all describing their time at Drexel as a “super fulfilling” experience. But, if there was anything Martin got out of the program it was experience living and working in LA, which they accomplished as a result of the film department’s “Drexel in LA” program. Martin finished up their junior and senior year in Philly, but then quit their job at the gym and made the trek to LA, or rather West Covina, to pursue their Hollywood aspirations.

As Martin or anyone in the entertainment industry could explain, it was far from smooth sailing. One of Martin’s first jobs in Hollywood included being “the script writer for an adult film company,” where Martin “would pitch complex backgrounds,” for the characters, though they clarified that they were not involved in writing the “explicit action.” Martin worked several jobs over their years in Hollywood. Nothing particularly glamorous, but at the end of the day, they “[were] able to pay rent doing writing.”

In 2021, Martin’s big break seemed imminent when their spec script “Palehorse” was picked up by a major Hollywood studio. However, due to issues with the studio and overall mistreatment from producers, the project fell through. “This is a very hard, cutthroat industry,” says Martin. “There’s no point where you’re like, okay, I’ve made it.” Fed up with Hollywood, Martin moved in with family in Fayetteville, North Carolina, where they began to work on a collection of poems and prose, eventually becoming their debut chapbook, “The Book of I.P.:Idle Poems.” Martin essentially wrote the pieces “out of frustration” with the industry, discussing through their work “how people can essentially do whatever they want regarding your material,” as long as “they’re richer than you, and if they have a better lawyer than you.” On the other hand, there is an incredibly positive aspect to the collection, with Martin viewing it “as an invitation to really stand up for yourself and your value as a writer, that your words are important to somebody.”

The collection went on to receive critical acclaim, garnering rave reviews from myriad local and national organizations. Including their sophomore effort, a second chapbook titled “Slam Poems My Bathroom Mirror,” Martin’s work has been cataloged by the Free Library of Philadelphia, as well as by institutions like Drexel, Princeton, and Penn’s libraries, respectively. Despite all these accomplishments, Martin is most proud of the fact that these works are entirely Martin’s own, allowing them to “re-establish [their] autonomy.” And while the reception sure is nice, it was mostly because it helped “validate” that autonomous voice. “It made me feel good,” says Martin.

Even though Martin seems to be enjoying their life as a full-time poet, (they are releasing their third collection, “Falder: All & The Proverbial Nature of Everything,” later this year) they are not done with Hollywood just yet. Right now, Martin is in the midst of working on several projects in the industry, and while continuing to write and publish poetry, is also looking to get into teaching screenwriting in the Philadelphia area. As for the current state of their career, Martin seems to be in a pretty good spot. “I’m not rich and famous or anything like that,” says Martin. “But I am a working writer. That’s really what I set out to be. That’s something that so few people can say that they even get paid to do.”