New Review: Poet James E. M. Smith on Span

“Historically, the natural world that we take for granted and that surrounds us closer than we think has been a gratifying subject for poets ever since the third century. The ancient Greeks wrote their `idylls’ – praising the virtues of simple rural life.Most notably the Transcendentalists – Thoreau, Muir, Emerson and Whitman among them realised the negative drain of politics and religion on a community and instead focused their attentions on the unity of man and nature, believing a simple life lived in natural surroundings achieving self-sufficiency was the key. Their poetry went beyond the painting of pretty pictures, it wasn’t all about seasons and birdsong and expressing romantic sentiments – indeed it touched on the transcendental.

In Span, David A. Martin is continuing the exploration, holding back the grasses of uncharted territory, showing us the interconnectedness – the ever changing complex relationship of man and nature as we move through this new century. What he does is quite miraculous. Here we have a writer who can broach this vulnerability, at times even confronting our occupation/destruction of it as the human race but do so in a way that is deft and urgent without being sentimental or sanctimonious.

To pigeonhole Martin as simply a nature poet isn’t going to encompass what is on offer here in this collection.
Early on in `the apple tree’ we learn there were many things that he had hitherto kept to himself. This is the perfect start – each successive poem serves as a revelation or insight of some sort.
Evidently Martin is equally at home writing acorn tight three line poems as well as the sprawling streams of forty-liners.

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