Today we’d like to introduce you to Kristian Zenz.
Hi Kristian, can you start by introducing yourself? We’d love to learn more about how you got to where you are today.
My story began as an author when I wrote a book entitled ‘2050,’ a science fiction novel that has proven to be a good read in a genre with many entries. Since then, I have developed a website and become more of a poet. I have always been fascinated by how words intertwine and blend in seamlessly with the sounds surrounding them and how people think to create these words and make these sounds. I have always been interested in how lyrics and words have meaning and how the delivery of these words impacts a reader. That is, first and foremost, what sets me apart from other artists. I rhyme often and emphasize rhythm in my art, making for a gut punch that the reader will not forget. It is delivery that is the capstone of good poetry, and I aim to exemplify it in my art. Secondly, I have also associated my poetry with pieces of art, a visual that enhances the words I have written down, sometimes created by myself or another, such as my grandmother. I have become a digital artist and graphic designer, allowing my art to rise into the stratosphere and enhance to another level. Lastly, what sets me apart is my age and my work ethic. Although I am a college freshman with two published works under my belt, I choose not to rest on my laurels— I stay hungry, and every day I aim to get better and grow in some or all facets. I aim to be the best artist and, above that, the best person I can be. It has been a bit of a challenge, but a rewarding one, ultimately.
Above all, I would like the earth to know that, in my favorite band’s words, I am here to bring ‘Unlimited Love’— I am here to be a beacon of light. I aim to impact the world positively and hope to inspire others to create their art.
In December 2021, I released my second book, Deadly Grievances, to acclaim as well as a wider audience than my previous effort. Deadly Grievance is a chapbook of fourteen poems telling a small but significant sliver of my story. Each poem pertains to a different subject, but all 14 largely merge to form this horrifyingly beautiful picture. The first 7 poems are representations of the Deadly Sins, the spectacle surrounding performing sin, and the anxiety associated with being aware of the commission. The next 5 deal with the stages of grief– the natural responses result from my sins’ aftermath. The final two deal with repentance– moving on from said sin and, hopefully, growing into a better iteration of yourself. I discovered that time is a relentless, transient beast that recycles its complexities– I wanted to encapsulate that in the last two. In short, Olivia Rodrigo released her album, Sour, last year. This is my Sour.
The book, currently available on Amazon, aims to see the world of poetry and modern literature evolve into something greater and perhaps even utilize today’s modern technology. Combined with artsy photography, mixed media, and collage work, the book encapsulates my last relationship and the resolve (or lack thereof) that follows a breakup. Other topics are also discussed, such as climate change and historical tragedies (see ‘The Blood Drive’). The book was companied by a series of spoken word shows in three states. Since then, the focus in 2022 has been on learning and living. I have been consuming art as much as possible through reading, painting, attending concerts, and even sorting recycling with Livenation. Since then, material for a third book has naturally arisen– it is due for release early next year, but it will concern us later.
Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall, and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
I’d be worried, perhaps concerned, if the road were not to be rocky, full of marshmallows and almonds. 2017-2021 were years of change, growth, and turmoil, but the potential for greatness shined through once in a blue moon.
In the summer of 2017, I finally realized I was alone. It was a timid and unpleasant feeling that was memorable for years. Yet it wasn’t sudden like a punch to the throat, nor a crack of the whip. These feelings wouldn’t fully manifest within me until the spring of 2018. Every single summer was the same. I loved everyone. Yet, this one felt different. I felt like something significant was missing. Having recently downloaded social media was most likely a precursor to what I was already feeling. I desired to stay connected to my beloved friends, and this idea led to the spiraling downfall known as the first year of high school.
It made me realize what I was missing and showed me just how lonely I was. I was never invited to anything. I couldn’t afford a passing thought from my peers. I thought I was predisposed to permanent loneliness.
The summer was calling for a change in my weak mentality. I was missing out on parties, on pleasure, on happiness. This is what I’m missing, I told myself. I wanted this. I needed this. This new mentality instilled within me led to the notorious beginning of the first year. I had rejected my old character and was ready for the flood of new friends to start knocking on my door. All I needed was a method of getting people to talk to me. Many of my peers respected me and thought I was intelligent— yet they would never dare become friends. I decided to start by helping others with homework. That idea was among the worst I’ve ever had. My service soon turned into slavery, and the snow began to fall. This experience is sighted in ‘Unwanted,’ a poem of mine written in February 2018. At first, I had inflicted blame on the negligence and incompetence of my peers. Perhaps this was the right call, as a few have attended anti-shutdown protests.
In March, I was frail. I had no purpose of serving and no goals. I had no one to go to and no one to be with. As my social life was either non-existent or the equivalent of a living wreck, I fell into depression. Yet as the winter grew weary and my depression grew stronger, I had shifted the blame, not to the incompetence of others but to the incompetence of myself. April 2018 was the climax of the low; I had never felt more alone. I started to turn to old hobbies to distance myself from my school. I wanted to get back what I felt was missing, even if I didn’t know quite what. Perhaps it was a sense of accomplishment. I finally finished a long manuscript of some bullshit I threw together, titled 2050. This completion energized me. This completion gave me enough hope and uplifted my spirits to keep moving. For once in a very long time, I had felt motivated. By the time sophomore year rolled around, I had grown just a little. I polished some rough edges and finally had a minimal grasp on what high schoolers found socially acceptable.
I was not alone anymore, and I finally fit into a group. I had a social life, so I decided to build up myself. I thought it was love, and boy, did I get some. I learned that love is futile and that it isn’t necessary for the path of self-fulfillment. Maslow would disagree, but perhaps a revelation was in progress. My first novel was released in May 2019, and a sense of accomplishment was finally instilled within me. I finally felt like a complete picture. All the holes that were laid out before me were finally filled. Yet, a greater realization would come to me nearly a year later. I realized that this isolation I always find myself in is meant to be. What was missing was something I lost long ago— my true self.
The COVID-19 outbreak, as unfortunate as it has been on a global scale, has been good to me. This isolation that I’ve been dealing with ‘has led me to start doing the same things I would do as a child. I write, build with LEGO, garden, clean, exercise, and get outside. It’s all the same as those old summers.
The quarantine has allowed me to rediscover my true self, reinvigorated my interests, and inflicted personal growth. For those reasons, and those reasons only, I am happy to have this time to myself (I do miss basketball, admittedly). All I had was what I needed, and since it’s hard to acquire more in these trying times, I now see what I had was enough.
At the beginning of 2020, I finally realized I was never alone. I was independent and fine on my own, being true to myself. But, if heaven had its hell, it would be quarantined during the height of the Covid pandemic– most of 2020 winter of 2021. Upon reflection, the idea of quarantine was oddly associated with many positive things. I could be four years old again– it was spring, and there was no school. I could walk outside whenever I wanted, and there was a refreshed discovery of just existing. I was free to do whatever pleased me, as most of my work didn’t involve much social interaction. It is when I started taking poetry seriously and would occasionally upload my work to my website throughout the year. A lot of 2020 was indeed a heavenly experience.
But then hell set in. I learned a lot about myself thanks to quarantine. I learned I become bored very easily, that I like social interaction, and that I like school. I wrote about the increased levels of anxiety I had during a lot of 2021– the relationship I had was not the best for me. I am a Cancer– I’m emotional and sensitive, and that sensitivity is why I write. I lost my relationship throughout quarantine as soon as things returned to ‘normal’– a fear I had all of 2021. I was devasted and frustrated. Everything that I had built for 14 months ceased to exist. I went on a writing tangent throughout October and November, writing mass amounts of poetry daily. As I wrote more, I healed more. I discovered more about myself, learned more about myself, and regained the confidence covid, and that relationship took away from me. Off the high of this newfound confidence, I started finding themes in my writing, such as stages of grieving and different sins. I also noticed the Holiday and seasonal themes and motifs that were appearing– it is why the book was released in December.
The year 2022 marks a point where resolve and realization have finally taken precedence over suffrage and the struggle. After all, I have been through, I have never felt more alive and excited to continue my journey into the world of literature.
Read the rest of the interview:
Cover photo: Keanu Moua: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCFt4lsEeQdvHVmrRoB8JFmw/featured.