Poetry Centre

Weekly Poem for 20 February 2018

  • I was a lightning rod salesman

    I was a lightning rod salesman
    preaching copper
    past the imaginary hills

    settlers construct
    to forsake every direction but dirt.

    My handshake was a bird,
    all getaway
    by the time knife fights traced

    the sky’s nightly veins.


    Between the grave of a man
    persecuted for wearing his beard
    and a well-governed Florida,

    the thunder repeated itself
    like a prizefighter who couldn’t bear to leave
    a clean stage.


    Would you prefer a wife
    or a heap of charred offal?
    I reasoned with the terrible farmers.

    To demonstrate what might happen,
    I tried on shivers.

    To stand for the sky’s jagged flesh,
    my hands turned to rain.


    by Christopher DeWeese


    We are delighted and excited to say that this week’s poet, Christopher DeWeese, will be visiting Oxford this Saturday 24 February, where he will be reading with the Poetry Centre’s own Andy Eaton at the Society Café. Don’t miss this wonderful chance to hear two award-winning writers! You can buy tickets on the door or book them via our website, where you can also find details of the rest of the spring series.

    Our three brand new ignitionpress poetry pamphlets: A Hurry of English by Mary Jean Chan, Glean by Patrick James Errington, and Lily Blacksell’s There’s No Such Thing, are now on sale from the Brookes online Shop! We will be holding launch events on 7 March (at the Poetry Café in London), 8 March (at the Society Café in Oxford), and on 25 March (at the Oxford Literary Festival), and all are welcome. You can find out more about these events on our website.

    ‘I was a lightning rod salesman’ is copyright © Christopher DeWeese, 2017. It is reprinted from The Confessions by permission of Periplum.

    Christopher DeWeese is the author of three books of poems: The Confessions (Periplum, 2017), The Father of the Arrow is the Thought (Octopus Books, 2015), and The Black Forest (Octopus Books, 2012). He is currently Associate Professor of English at Wright State University. He lives in Yellow Springs, Ohio. Read more about Christopher’s work on his website and follow him on Twitter.

    The Confessions is a book about diving bells, automatons, living insignias, detectives, garden mazes, flea circuses, murder dollhouses, Esperanto, twenty-one gun salutes, spirit photography, company towns, daredevils, forgery, circuses, turning to soap, auctioneering, fake pirates, and anarchist bullfighters. 

    Based out of Plymouth University’s English and Creative Writing Department, Periplum aims to publish and promote the best new poetry being written in English from around the world. The press’s most recent publication is The Confessions by Christopher DeWeese, winner of the Periplum Open Book Competition, and the next pamphlet will be by the poet and artist Heather Phillipson.

    Previous authors have included Mark Ford, Peter Gizzi, and Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin, and you can watch interviews with some of the writers here. Pamphlets are between 18 and 24 pages, printed on good quality paper, and designed by members of Plymouth’s Illustration department. Periplum also runs a bi-annual poetry pamphlet competition, which is open to anyone writing in English. The winner receives £300 and publication in Autumn 2018. The deadline for submissions is Sunday 1 April 2018.

    Copyright information: please note that the copyrights of all the poems displayed on the website and sent out on the mailing list are held by the respective authors, translators or estates, and no work should be reproduced without first gaining permission from the individual publishers.

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