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The Falling Down Dance

Poetry by Chris Martin

A couple learns first how to be together, then how to anticipate a child, then how to raise him.

November 3, 2015
6 x 9 | 96 Pages
Trade Paper

ISBN: 978-1-56689-422-7.



The poems in this book open a field of exploration around failure, love, despair, time, and fatherhood. It is a guide to surviving winter and learning to walk. It is a story about old houses filled with new song. Behold the first raspberry and the last clasping wet of the world as it parts to reveal mercy, a person.


Praise for The Falling Down Dance

“To read The Falling Down Dance from cover to cover—and it’s best read that way—is also to see a dad start separate and strive for connection, catching the baby when he falls down, or feeling like a welcome but slightly distant addition to a maternal dyad. . . . Martin makes the clearest example for the new American poetry of fatherhood.” The Boston Review

“Martin’s poems traverse expansive concepts while confined to the space of an apartment, where new parents in ‘the shipwreck / of fatherhood, of motherhood’ are cloistered during a brutal winter.” Star Tribune

“In this spare, poignant collection, Martin invites readers into the microcosm of new fatherhood against a wintry backdrop that produces isolation and intimacy in turn. . . . Martin encourages his readers to see parenthood in all its contradictions; the beautiful addition and the nexus of complication.” —Publishers Weekly

The Falling Down Dance is a book of poetry so tenderly, playfully, and, often, still, sorrowfully in tune with the modern world. Ranging from Frank Ocean to fatherhood, from modern love to modern sadness, Martin’s poems tilt and turn down the page, full of dance and momentum. . . . The Falling Down Dance is a pulsing joy of a book. It feels so full, its slim lines bursting at the edges, trying to get out.” —Full Stop

“Martin’s attention is tender, even when it is dark. In the end, though, [The Falling Down Dance] is a book that closes in on domestic moments, moments of the physical body’s experiences, and these attentions manage to feel somehow profoundly political. For what is more political than the effort to create a space of love?” FIELD

“Like the very best we have, Chris Martin is not a motivational speaker, he’s a poet. The Falling Down Dance is the book I want in the drunken frailty of a failing empire. These poems are the earthly manifestation of a beautiful off-grid voice always a cosmic block ahead of us.” —CAConrad, author of Ecodeviance

“Remember when you were invincible and an infinite number of coffee spoons failed to measure your latitude? You sat back while your x-y axis pierced the cosmos into perfect quadrants . . . and then you grew up, perhaps you learned to love, perhaps someone needed you. Gravity, radiation, reaction gave way to the ‘now and now and now’ of the month-to-month lease, the planet’s sure spin, a beer in a paper bag. The Falling Down Dance is a chronicle of new coordinates, of careful calculation and the perception that blows it all apart. These poems exult the binary prayer of milk: to feed, to be fed; and they revel in the glorious, ancillary rest of it all.” —Sommer Browning

“In American Music Chris Martin wrote of ‘kids like myself wrung/ Whiter each genealogical turn.’ Now when violence against brown and black bodies is getting more national attention, some white poets respond by mirroring our bodies back to us, divested, made concept, as if we needed redundancy to see power. Martin, in exploring the arrival of his own white son, suggests instead we, ‘the manifold/ animal,’ might need a space kicked out a little broader where we can turn in time and in between time, hate ourselves in a loving way, change, fall down, and in falling, dance. In a word, in Chris Martin’s beautiful word, these brilliant new poems are both invitation and space in which to ‘Unperform.’” —Farid Matuk

“A haunting and beautiful book about fatherhood . . . the poems in The Falling Down Dance seek out zones of imbalance where the big, difficult lessons occur.” —The Journal (West Virginia)

Praise for Chris Martin

“The precision of Martin’s guidance—its wise thrill, if you like . . . is in fact a careful curation from an active imagination in which syntax stays a half step ahead of sense . . . ensuring that play comes before postulation even when Martin maps out difficult meanings.” —The Kenyon Review

Chris Martin is the author of American Music (Copper Canyon, 2007) and Becoming Weather (Coffee House Press, 2011). He is also the author of several chapbooks, including How to Write a Mistake-ist Poem (Brave Men, 2011), enough (Ugly Duckling, 2012), the serially released CHAT (Flying Object, 2012), and History (Coffee House Press, 2014). After editing one of the first online magazines, Puppy Flowers, for its entire ten-year run, he is now an editor at Futurepoem books and curates the response blog Futurepost.