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INTERVIEWS

"Martin Rock on the Outward Manifestation of Inward Events"
LitSeen

 "From the Center Out: CSU Poetry Center’s New Author Interviews"
Essay Press

"I'll Remind You That All Books Are Made of Light: Karl Zuehlke Interviews Martin Rock"
American Literary Review

Interviewed by poet Traci Brimhall for Fish, You Bird 
We Are Homer

 

 


 

RESIDUUM REVIEWED

 

"Martin Rock’s first collection of poetry, Residuum, is a work of what one could call “preserved erasure.” Unlike books that black out or excise text, as though by a whimsical censor’s pen, Residuum uses the straight line of the strike-through to perform enact embody allow its resections to remain apparent. So, a reader sees layered versions, in a manner often available only in poets’ archives.[...] Rock’s revisions seem to glitch the lines away from more predictable meaning: instead of 'shade' calling to 'sun,' the lines conclude with 'the hole in your head.' A bullet hole or other injury? A way to enter the eyes, and the shadow-play of the imagination, where this poem, itself, occurs? However you interpret it, the substitution of 'your head' disorients but also extends from the earlier phrases; that is, it doesn’t rupture language or reconfigure image like a Surrealist poem might, but shifts the poem’s vision by a half-step. This change fits the guiding metaphor of Residuum: to let the 'genetic material' of language open 'itself to revision / mutation.'" —Zach Savich, Poetry Northwest

 

"Martin Rock is a more deliberately experimental poet. Borrowing a trick from Arnold Schwerner (The Tablets) and placing much of his work under erasure, Rock underscores the immediacy of process and undermines the idea of the poem as a finished product. This makes the book fun to read, as the choices of phraseology come and go like hypertext:

I lied on my application
There was never a ghost on the roof
All roofs have been transformed 
      by America’s most recent economic downgrade
                                        wanted renegades
                                        beautiful retrograde.

We can never be quite sure of the subject or stance of these poems (if they are separate poems—even that isn’t clear) since the erasures and shifts in diction continually redirect us while leaving the afterimage of the rejected text in our minds. This makes for an exciting read, but it also defers many of the usual pleasures of poetry, including closure, wholeness, and deep focus. Still, the challenge is interesting."—William Doreski, Harvard Review

 

"Martin Rock presents here at least two possible readings of each poem, with sections or lines struck out "under the sign of erasure," so that we have alternative inclusions that shift meanings, make and unmake "the violence is {reversed} irreversible." The strike-throughs are themselves a complex organism, breathing and unbreathing, with the text both living and dead before us. "Here are my thoughts in front of you denatured" says this collision of dark and light matter, form and formlessness. Language divided before us like a living cell."—D.A. Powell

 

"Rock’s approach in his poems is to show not only the finished product but the words that have led to that work’s construction. He does so by including words, and even entire sections, that have lines drawn through them to denote a change or edit in the work. By doing this, Rock’s poems celebrate the edits that would not normally be showcased in the finished product. By including the remains of what the poem could have said or been, his work masterfully drives forward the message that a poem can say so many things depending on the language within its finalized form."—Shekinah Kifer, Poetry International

 

"Fluid, dreamy, and surprisingly satisfying [...] Rock’s poem redirects constantly, leads me on like a Choose Your Own Adventure story, and invites me to try again for a different result." —Jade Blackwater, about an excerpt from Residuum published in Black Warrior Review

 

"Martin has a new one coming: a collection called Residuum, which has a bonkers-good cover and even better writing (this is one of those books people call “dizzying” and actually mean it)."—Brazos Bookstore

 

 


 

 

DEAR MARK REVIEWED

 

"Rock is doing something beyond seeing, feeling, beyond meditation or immediate response. He’s linking poems, somehow, to paintings, treating them more as sigils or altar pieces, signs. He links to them, which is not moving from or to; he takes each Rothko piece, reduces it to a black-and-white schematic (so much empty space and so much filled, rectangles within a rectangle, etc.) and then offers a poem, below, in mystic resonance." —Spencer Dew

 

"Martin Rock’s chapbook is a poetic study of Mark Rothko’s “multiform” paintings from his late period. Rothko once advised viewers to sit as little as 18-inches from the canvas in order to experience the intimacy and immanence of his work, and it seems Rock took this advice literally. Dear Mark spends hours staring into those blocks of color to find meaning and companionship in Rothko’s work."—The Fiddleback, "Great Books of 2013"

 

"The pattern makes us question the difference between blackness and darkness. Our gut instinct is to think of blackness as a color: more artificial, an observation people have placed along the spectrum. Darkness, on the other hand, feels more primal, like it would and will exist outside of human being. Blackness is exclusive and controlled. Darkness is inclusive, is space, is extra-spatial." LEVELER

 

"Rock finds horizons, open spaces, structures, mouths, and much more in the boxes Rothko provides. These could be general interpretations, arguably any object could be drawn from such general shapes, but Rock isn’t looking to make 1:1 relationships. His poems aren’t equally abstract as the paintings, but unlimited nonetheless, looking to create their own realities and exist within them." —Levi Rubeck

 

"[I'm] impressed by these poems’ ability to grasp the painting then climb atop it and stomp around. A tricky line exists to balance on, between talking in regards to the paintings and talking for the paintings, between demonstrating an interpretation and being eaten by the reaction. Wow how these poems do it!"—Vouched Books Blog

 

"This kind of [line] break causes me to stop and write 'wow' in the margin. If we read only the first line, we get the idea that "forbearance" is no more. Then, as we continue to read, we realize "no longer" has a different meaning all together. So cool. Of course, as you read the rest of the poem you realize that the whole poem is about patience & restraint versus wildness. And all of this suggested by an abstract painting built of blocks of color. So cool." —Sandy Longhorn

 

 


 

CATHERINE BREESE DAVIS: ON THE LIFE AND WORK OF AN AMERICAN MASTER REVIEWED

 

"Like Robert Frost before her, Davis introduces the romantic desire to find signs of an intelligible and loving spiritual order in the natural world only to undermine it. But in contrast to Frost, she holds that we, by necessity, search the brute material forms of that world not for an image of the mind of God—the light—but for a likeness of our own minds. Human nature is essentially poetic; it goes out in search of what used to be called "vehicles"—concrete images—to represent metaphorically the "tenors," the literal nature, of our minds."—The Weekly Standard

 

"With this new book, editors Collins, Prufer and Rock have given life to Davis’ poems once again. Once read, no one can take them back. No matter what, we can read and take pleasure in what she wrote. She gives us life."—Lambda Literary

 

"Catherine Breese Davis: On the Life and Work of an American Master is an inspired tribute to a gifted woman. Read this book, and be rewarded with her courageous and beautiful words."—NewPages

 

 

"It amazes me that this collection of poetry almost failed to see the light of day: Davis's longtime companion was initially hesitant to publish Davis's manuscript after Davis's death because, not being legally married to Davis, she feared she had no legal right to do so. In the wake of Obergefell v. Hodges, it makes my head spin to think that such a valuable collection of poetry as this almost became a casualty of marriage inequality."—Jenna Le

 


 

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CRITICISM

 

 "I'd Swipe Right on Yr Metadata" by Liat Berdugo
Considers RESIDUUM, personhood, metadata, & internet dating 
@Transart Triennial 2016-19