Reviews, Quotes and Literary Criticism

What Others are Saying about the poetry of David A. Martin
and his book Span (Rhizome Publishing 2011, 2012)

Reviews and Quotes

 

“David Anthony Martin is a nature poet the way Frank O’Hara was a city poet. He has paid attention, assimilated the beauty and mystery of his surroundings, and let it color his poetry in delicate ways. He says, “everything will be alright just shut up and listen.” He draws from dreams and folktale and myth. He contemplates streams and trees and bears. And he does it in language that is beguiling, sly and as lovely as a September peach. These are poems to carry in your metaphorical pocket like small runic stones, with lines that you will want to contemplate again and again. Like this brief poem called “stream of consciousness:” “the moon is not in the quick silver stream, the moon is in the still, void-dark lake.” Span is delicious reading.”
~Corey Mesler
,
author of Before the Great Troubling and Notes toward the Story and Other Stories

“Thoreau, Cid Corman, Lorine Niedecker, Whalen & Snyder, Sam Hamill and now David Martin, a wilderness walker returning as the missing lynx in the lineage of nature based poetry heartbeating it’s way into our gorges & forests – it has the aroma of wild mushrooms & the flow of a raging springmelt. The poems span the distance between old friends. ‘Less like a voice / more like a knowing’”
~Mike Parker
,
author of Don’t Fall Off The Mountain and Wallflower Sutra

“Your eyes, eyes of a bard.”
~Janine Pommy Vega
Author of The Green Piano and The Mad Dogs of Trieste

“David’s poetry really connects to me. Mostly they are poems about the small things that we all encounter. When I read his collection of poems in “Span” it slowed my life down. I can’t really remember to many times in this busy world of instant communication where my world has slowed down.”
          ~Timothy Sparks, Sparks Brothers Media.

“Your poetry’s spare elegance reminds me of Basho.”
~Dianna Repp, Ph.D.
Instructional Faculty in Anthropology
Pima Community College

 

“Deepening the Map is a collection that eloquently takes the reader from mountain peaks, to the depths of canyons, the limitlessness of open fields, but ultimately awakens our humanity. And the threats our humanity has on nature. This is a collection of work that will leave beautiful sketches in the mind while etching compassion in the heart of the reader.”
~Marie Loerzel
Author of Rock the Kasbah: A Memoir of Misadventure

 

“David Anthony Martin is a voice of the spirit, a voice of the land. He has the rare quality of deepening the life experience through his poems. His poems are earth songs. His poems are Zen anecdotes. His poems are transcendent pictures. One is moved by the power of his language. Martin captures the silence behind language, the secrets behind the profound, the mystery behind nature. He combines a nature mysticism with a marvelous storytelling. To read his poems is to take a rare journey into the heart of America. His poems are the transmission of life experiences into journeys that you take with him. The journeys that are mesmerizing and magnificent.”

~ Tony Moffeit, winner of the prestigious Jack Kerouac Award and the Thomas Hornsby Ferril Poetry Prize, author of Pueblo Blues (Cherry Valley), Luminous Animal (Cherry Valley), Neon Peppers (Cherry Valley), Poetry is Dangerous, the Poet is an Outlaw (Floating Island Press, 1995) and Tony Moffeit: Greatest Hits (Pudding House, 2004)

 

Literary Criticism

Suddenly There Is A Dragonfly Inside Him
by James E. Smith
“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. Regardless of poem size or structure prevailing throughout is an excellent eye and ear for detail. His recollections occupy all the senses, often bordering on the lysergic – “somewhere deep in a forest, far away, my heart is dreaming faceless, afloat in ferns” or even synesthetic – “what does the smell of fall look like?” and – “can you taste the red of the robins breast?”.There is so much to love here – “sparkles of sunshine”, “the quench of rain”, “a gnawed, slim, sliver of bone”.
Martin is a guardian spirit of his land, he is inviting us to feel and experience his space.
Not only does a wonderful sense of geography pervade but also Martins symbiosis to the land on which he lives is made apparent, especially when he pays homage to the honey bee’s humming that lives on in his oatmeal filled throat. I was particularly touched by an act of kindness in`benevolence’ where he places a shallow plate of water to save the wasps from drowning in the dog bowl.As the collection moves on I seem to notice a gradual change in the poems, they become more poignant, almost totemic, resonating deeper with me – this may have been illusory as found myself left to do some self-reflection in my own deep dark forest.
`oh, death (I laugh)’ hits home, we learn that if he were to die he would – “miss the society of birds”. More so than his human counterparts?
“Trees become skeletal in autumns endgame”, “sunshine and shade is what it takes”. There is cold murk, a “void-dark lake” and an elk has been hit by a car. The circle is complete. Birth, blossom, decay and passing.The standout piece of the collection for me is `listen’. It is so accomplished and rounded, acting as a microcosm for the whole book and the natural world at large. Here the river and the mountains are cleverly personified, their movements and flourishes examined in fantastic detail. We discover that they operate outside of the parameters of human understanding, which is until now – “the mountain does not understand the word weekend, its holidays marked by the aeonic tongue of the lichen”.
This kind of imagery isn’t just pleasant to the mind’s eye – it is informative too, especially when we hear that in comparison – “the green haste of the chloroplast” and the movement of sap are “all as fleeting as the sound of a branch brushing the sleeve of my jacket”.
His skill as a translator of his experiences is astounding;
when I read these poems I can walk in his footsteps trail, see what he sees and hear what he hears. I can feel the full force of his wonderment at the unknown while eavesdropping on the minutiae of his daily rituals.
Corey Mesler’s blurb on the back cover sums it up perfectly; these are poems to read and re-read, poems that transport the reader into another world that is actually our world. Then I feel all the better for it. More please, soon David.”
~James “Scrawlerman” Smith, Poet
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