"A Gathering of Matter / A Matter of Gathering is a long song of bodily bereavement—staccato, bracket studded, gruff, brusque. It maps a stark, disconsolate landscape in which bodied resounds with bloodied, 'a song no longer a song.' Jagged vantage, rhythmic aplomb, and an always agile colloquy of image and assertion make for a most auspicious debut."
—Nathaniel Mackey, author of Splay Anthem
"A deep and exhausting exploration of the human body and every possible equation regarding gender, identity, race, and sexuality. It is obvious this prose poet has done something unique."
"It is the leap, not necessarily the landing, that forces risk and invention. Martin has taken such a leap and, in the process, invented new ways in which to engage and experience language. A Gathering of Matter / A Matter of Gathering is an ambitious debut book of poems that does not consult with convention, but rather vehemently argues with it. And, there is something very elegant, ugly, honest, unpleasant and right-minded about Martin's reasoning. . . . With ingenious forms that will test the patience of the most delicate reader of poetry, hers is a persuasive, alternative version void of pretension and artificiality. The authority with which Martin, a newly published poet, writes will astound readers and reviewers alike. And, by the likes of A Gathering of Matter / A Matter of Gathering, we can expect many more pleasant surprises from this promising, award-winning poet."
—Nicole Sealey, Mosaic Magazine
Dawn Lundy Martin’s work is neither language poetry, which rejects the speaking subject, nor strictly lyric, which embraces the speaking “I.” It might best be described as poetry where, in the words of Juliana Spahr, “the lyric meets language”—both an investigation into the opacity of language and the expression of a passionate speaker who struggles to speak meaningfully.
Martin’s poems bend the form into something new, seeking a way to approach the horrific and its effect on the psyche more fully than might be possible in the worn groove of the traditional lyric. Her formal inventiveness is balanced by a firm grounding in bodily experience and in the amazing capacity of language to expand itself in Martin’s hands. She explodes any pretense at a world where words mean exactly what we want them to mean and never more nor less.
The poems are neither gentle nor easy, but they make a powerful case that neither gentleness nor easiness is appropriate in the attempt to contend with the trauma and violence that are an inescapable part of human history and human experience. Martin’s book acknowledges the difficulty but not the impossibility of utterance in trauma’s wake, and it ventures into the unimaginable at many levels, from the personal to the cultural.
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