By: KELSIE FERGUSON
Two poets, married, living in one house — imagine the literary puns. Not only did Heather Christle and Chris Deweese give readings of their poetry from the books they’ve published last Thursday in Wiekamp Hall’s Bridge — but they also answered the crowd of about 40 students, staff and general public’s questions about their work and relationship’s pros and cons.
Starting off the night, Deweese read one of his poems titled “Creep” which talked about subjects ranging from espresso foam to meadows, sheep, minnows and worms. The oddities didn’t end there as he read “Lightning Crashes” in which one line read, “the bagel closes its eyes.”
The crowd laughed often as he read sentences that seemed to make sense, with interesting and odd subjects and adjectives – creating energy and surprise for the crowd of smiling listeners.
Deweese finds inspiration in many odd and interesting places. He explained during the reading that his poem titled “Soul to Squeeze” was inspired from a song by Red Hot Chili Peppers from the soundtrack of the film “Coneheads,” and his poem “Wear a Red Hat, I Will Too” was something he read off of a graffiti-ed wall in Massachusetts.
One poem “In an Arrogant Castle” was inspired by Deweese’s friend’s anger over an Apples to Apples game in which the friend associated the word arrogance with castle, “because what’s more arrogant than a castle,” said Deweese. One line from this poem read, “and we women cannot stop knitting ectoplasm into blankets,” which drew much laughter from the crowd.
When Deweese’s wife Heather Christle took the stage the poetry took a change of pace. Christle received a Bachelors Degree from Tufts University and a Master of Fine Arts Degree from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst. Her poetry seemed much more narrative-driven and was filled with interesting, bold and sometimes seemingly nonsensical statements which played on words and rhythm.
She began her readings with a poem titled “My Enemy” to which she admitted not actually having one. She then asked the room if they had one, saying “I’ve always thought it would be sort of amazing to have one,” which broke the ice for her next several poems.
“I lost my phone” was the title of one poem which she followed with “so I’m using the baby monitor instead,” and another poem read, “If we did not have skin we would not have gladness.” These lines were received with much laughter from the crowd.
Christle stated that part of one of her books gets angry and her poem “The Angry Faun” was one in it. She emphasized the need to understand that it was a faun – not fawn.
“If you’re having a hard time imagining a faun think of Thomas from the Chronicles of Narnia, and then make him angry,” she said.
Other poems she read were interesting and a few held surprises for the audience with their odd and delightful turns and leaps.
Afterward in the question and answer session, Deweese stated that being married to another poet was “one of the best things that ever happened to me,” explaining that while he had always loved poetry, most of the poets that he used to like were dead, and what’s great about Christle is that she is alive.
He also stated that having a friend to read and help him with his poems was great and very much a part of their success.
“It was interesting to hear an author read their poems the way they interpret their own writing, as well as learn about their lives with each other, since they’re both poets,” said IUSB student Michael Fritschi, who attended the poetry reading for his creative writing class.
The couple has lived together since 2007 and stated that this does influence some of their work, as they are exposed to much of the same geography, imagery and authors, and therefore have somewhat of a shared imagination. They are also active editors of each others poetry.
While many factors create for a shared influence and sometimes similar subjects, the two poets have very unique and contrasting writing styles in their poetry.
Christle has written The Difficult Farm, The Trees The Trees, and What is Amazing – She can be followed via her blog on Tumblr, www.heatherchristle.tumblr.com.
Deweese who has written The Black Forest, and Maneuvers also has a blog: www.infiniteowls.blogspot.com.