Poet-Veteran to Bear Witness to War & Homecoming: November 2022
In an explosive first collection of poetry, HEAT + PRESSURE, U.S. Army veteran and Tennessee storyteller Ben Weakley explores what it means to have gone to war.
In 2018, as he was retiring from the Army, Weakley began participating in writing workshops with Rockville, Maryland-based Community Building Art Works (CBAW). The practice sparked in him a passion for creating opportunities for dialogue among “civilians” and “military” audiences through writing and literature.
“I wrote these poems on phone screens in the back of commuter buses and metro trains. I wrote them in notebooks on lunch breaks at work and quiet Sunday mornings before the rest of my family was awake,” the poet writes. “At first, I wrote about combat, acts of war, and unprocessed violence. As I pushed myself further, I wanted to know more about why I had decided to go to war [...] I wanted to know what it meant for my life now. The words happened. I bore witness.”
Weakley now enjoys creating spaces for people to speak truths and tell their stories, with special care toward those who aren’t usually heard. He himself now facilitates on-line writing workshops through CBAW, as well as through the Philadelphia-based non-profit Warrior Writers.
His poetry and non-fiction appears in such literary publications as Cutleaf Journal, Sequestrum, and The Wrath-Bearing Tree. His work has been anthologized in We Were Not Alone (CBAW, 2021) and Our Best War Stories (Middle West Press, 2020). He was the 2019 winner of the Heroes Voices National Poetry Contest and the 2021 poetry winner in the 2021 Col. Darron L. Wright Memorial Writing Awards.
Weakley lives in the Tri-Cities of Northeast Tennessee with his wife and two children—and a well-meaning but poorly behaved hound-dog named Camo.
Starting Nov. 10, 2022:
HEAT + PRESSURE: Poems from War (96 pages, Middle West Press LLC) is available in a $11.99 trade paperback edition through Amazon and other booksellers, as well as a $5.99 Kindle e-book edition exclusively via Amazon.
Middle West Press LLC (www.middlewestpress.com) is a Johnston, Iowa-based editor and publisher of non-fiction, journalism, and poetry. As an independent micro-press, we publish one to four titles annually. Our projects are often inspired by the people, places, and history of the American Midwest.