KWH Pick of the Week: “Poem Beginning With A Line By Lionel Messi” by Christopher DeWeese, Chosen by Chris Tonelli

Posted on May 20, 2012


Knox Writers’ House Contributor’s Pick of the Week 5/19/2012

Poem Beginning With A Line By Lionel Messi by Christopher DeWeese in Atlanta, GA

Chosen by Chris Tonelli in Raleigh, NC

I went with this poem for two reasons above and beyond the fact that it is a terrific poem. 1. I wanted to finally learn how to pronounce Christopher’s last name, as I have only seen it in print, and 2. Because thinking about watching Messi play WHILE listening to a poem, especially THIS poem, is maybe the greatest version of multi-tasking ever.

In his pre-poem banter, DeWeese mentions that what makes Messi so poetic to watch is his improvisational movement. I know it’s a lame move on my part, but I would argue that this is exactly what makes DeWeese such an athletic poet to read/listen to—HIS improvisation. Or at least he makes it feel that way. The noun happens, PACE for example, and DeWeese has to respond with a verb—BLOSSOMS! Which is perfect; Messi says he still has a thorn in him, implying a rose! And verbs elude their nouns like this throughout the poem—CALORIES surprisingly PROPAGATE, the WIND GETS WASTED, and the speaker GOES POOLSIDE to ASH.

Then, like a streaker jumping out of the stands and onto the pitch, an INSANE, GIGANTIC BEAR DESIGN lumbers from off a wool sweater and into the poem. So how does DeWeese react? First he pushes the surrealism even farther by turning the bear design into a real bear: “I will think of you if I ever see a bear.” He then, much like Messi, finishes with a move that is somehow both startling and inevitable. DeWeese shifts from the formal tone of a capital “P” Poetic address, to the casual tone of a conversation: “I will think of you if I ever see a bear. I mean, whenever.”

If you Youtube “Lionel Messi goal” and watch a few clips, you’ll note that he often scores his dazzling goals with a casual strike rather than a thunderous one. I hope I am the first to say that Christopher DeWeese is the Lionel Messi of poetry, and the wonderful thing about the Knox Writers’ House is that you can listen to him over and over.

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