Who the hell is
and why is he
CHRIS BELDEN was born & raised in Canton, Ohio--home of Thurman Munson, The O'Jays, Macy Gray, & Marilyn Manson. After surviving 12 years of Catholic school, he attended the University of Michigan, where he received a B.A. in Film & Video Studies, which is to say he spent four years watching movies.
Portrait by L. Berzon
These two photos by the great Marion Ettlinger.
Listen to my song about Marion Ettlinger!
Listen to "Nuclear Baby," a tune by The Slang, with me on drums & vocals, circa 1983.
This is me on drums playing on Joe Henry's song "Farm Club," circa 1985.
After college Chris worked lousy day jobs for several years while playing drums in the band The Slang. For a while he also played in Joe Henry's band, which is how he ended up in NYC. There he worked in the publishing industry & started writing fiction in earnest. He also wrote several screenplays, including Amnesia--cowritten with the great David Henry--which was made into a B movie starring Ally Sheedy & John Savage.
Read my flash fiction story "Termite Walks into a Bar . . ."
Read my story "The Woodpecker Problem" in Sixfold magazine.
In 1996, Chris was in the first cohort of the Bronx WritersCorps, a sort of literary Peace Corps made up of writers who went out into the South Bronx community to work with under-served populations. For his part, Chris ran several writing workshops in senior centers throughout the Bronx. In the 90s Chris also started writing & performing in plays, mostly at the Ensemble Studio Theatre, where he is a member. In 2001, he co-wrote & co-starred (with the Lexington Group) in "The Ballad of Larry the Flyer," which ran at both the Spoleto Festival in Charleston & the NY Int'l Fringe Festival.
In 2003, Chris released his first album, Songs About Anything, followed a few years later by Camouflage. In 2007, after 20 years in NYC, Chris moved to Connecticut with his wife, Melissa, & their daughter, Francesca. A few years later he received an MFA in Creative Writing from Fairfield University. Since then he has taught writing at Fairfield U., the Westport Writers Workshop, the Ridgefield Writers Workshop, & Garner Correctional Institution, a maximum security prison. He is also co-founder of the Ridgefield Writers Conference.
Hear a tune from the play
"The Ballad of Larry the Flyer"!
Photo by the late, great Sarah Coleman.
LISTEN TO CB'S 2004 INTERVIEW ON NPR.
Chris is the author of the novels Shriver and Carry-on, & the story collection The Floating Lady of Lake Tawaba, which won the Fairfield/New Rivers Book Prize. In 2013, judge Susan Orlean chose Chris's essay "Inside Words: How to Teach Writing in Prison" for the Bechtel Prize, from Teachers & Writers Collaborative. In 2015, Touchstone Books (a division of Simon & Schuster) re-issued Shriver. In 2020, after years of development, writer/director Michael Maren started shooting the film version of Shriver, titled A Little White Lie, starring Michael Shannon, Kate Hudson, Don Johnson, & many other great actors. Halted mid-way through because of the Covid-19 pandemic, production finally resumed & wrapped in spring of 2021. Look for its release in March 2023! (See TRAILER)
In the fall of 2023, Woodhall Press will publish Closer to Freedom: Prose & Poetry from Maximum Security, a collection of writings by members of Chris's prison creative writing workshop.
Since April 2020 Chris has cohosted (with Katie Schneider) the livestreamed reading series FUMFA Poets & Writers Live. (see HOME page for more details)
Chris tries to write & read & play a little music every day, & often fails miserably.
READ my essay about Ishiguro's THE REMAINS OF THE DAY.
Read my story "The Black Bear."