Featured Poet: Christopher Locke, Epping
Christopher Locke was born in Laconia, NH in 1968 and has lived most of his life in the Granite State. His poems and prose have appeared in over 100 publications around the world including Poetry, The Literary Review, West Branch, Descant (Canada), Esquisite Corpse, Tears in the Fence (England), Atlanta Review, Rattle, The Stinging Fly (Ireland), Connecticut Review, The Sun, and twice on National Public Radio's "Morning Edition". Chris has been awarded over two dozen grants and prizes for his writing including the 2007 Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Memorial Poetry Prize, and Finalist prizes from the Writers@Work Nonfiction Award, (Co-sponsored by Quarterly West), the Georgetown Review Award in Nonfiction, and the Robert Penn Warren Award. He has received grants from the Massachusetts Cultural Council, Fundacion Valparaiso (Spain), and the NH Council on the Arts. His fourth chapbook is entitled "The Temple of Many Hands", forthcoming from DeadDrunkDublin Press in Ireland. He also just completed a memoir ("Speaking in Tongues"), and a full length Collection of poems ("The Unsorrowing"). Chris currently lives in Epping, NH.
Of his featured poem, Chris writes:
I wrote “Telling Stories” as an homage to language. High school was one giant blind spot for me, but at least I did discover why storytelling, either through poetry, fiction, or face-to-face exchanges, mattered. And I owe the majority of this awakening to a handful of thoughtful teachers at Exeter High School who didn't necessarily 'teach me' how to write, but who merely took their time to listen to me - something I didn't think adults were capable of at that point in my life. Ultimately, when I wrote “Telling Stories”, my hope was I'd end up with a poem that believed in embracing those small moments that are True, even if it means eschewing the truth. Now, did I really see those boxcars? Answer that question with another: Would you believe the poem more if I did?
When I was ten,
I said a crematorium
was an ice cream parlor
for dead people. Even as my father
laughed, I knew fire
ravaged the body, that it
shattered the hair first
and then peeled the clothes away.
But the invention felt good
on my tongue. All through school
I couldn't stop; hallways throbbed
with my voice, my deceit filling the air
with static and wonder: “The Spanish teacher
wants to sleep with me,” I told friends
between the thin gray lockers; and,
“Thomas Edison almost married my great-grandmother.”
My English teacher encouraged me
to write it all down;
my English teacher with a vein
of numbers tattooed on her forearm.
“We told stories to stay alive,”
she said. “To us, the Nazis
weren't even humans.”
On the last day of school, our bus
stopped at a railroad crossing. My eyes
followed the boxcars as they lazied
by. I could picture the countless hands
sticking through the slats, rain skidding
across their fingers, their open palms
stunned by the chill of spring air.