Poetry by Chris Martin
October 6, 2020 • 6 x 9 • 112 pages • 978-1-56689-595-8
Are we living in a shitty heaven or a tender hell? Chris Martin’s poems wrestle with reconciling the shocking horrors and common graces of everyday life in America.
Join Chris Martin for a poetic walking tour of hell—or is it heaven? In this wickedly clever collection, Martin asks how we go about living in the tension between protesting lunatic politicians and picking up the kids from school, mourning a dying Earth and making soup, combating white supremacy and loving our dear ones. Martin’s poems pick at the tender scabs protecting our national and individual identities and call for more honest healing. Things to Do in Hell channels 2016 anger into 2020 action with sophisticated, rhythmic verse that compels us to beat our swords into ploughshares and join the fight.
About the Author
Chris Martin is the author of four books of poetry and the recipient of grants from the Mellon Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Minnesota State Arts Board. He is the co-founder and executive director of Unrestricted Interest, an organization dedicated to helping neurodivergent learners transform their lives through writing. He lives in Minneapolis, where he professes at Hamline University and Carleton College.
Praise for Things to Do in Hell“Masterful, breathless, and prescient, Chris Martin’s fourth poetry collection, Things to Do in Hell, is both antidote and screed, reliquary and reckoning. In this diatomic opus exhuming the most intimate aspects of our human[e]-ness, Martin probes capitalism, toxic masculinity, fatherhood, and whiteness to inventory the disasters and desires that have fueled our perilous consumption toward impending collapse. And yet there is hope—for love endures. Retooling language like molten metal—letting its fire snake then seethe into new realms of syntax and meaning—this poet at the height of his powers reimagines a deliberate, unflinching future ensconced in wisdom and tenderness from ‘the circle whose center is everywhere.’ There’s no turning back.” —Su Hwang
“Chris Martin’s poems in Things to Do in Hell are like people grabbing anything they can find and beating it until a new, found music comes forth. Isn’t that what we do these days when the humdrum of flogged, dead horses is not enough to awaken us? Cacophonous raps full of improvisation, these meditations ricochet somewhere between Rimbaud, Huidobro, Stein, and Borzutzky, expanding and contracting in their syntactical agitation, unraveling and unpeeling, since ‘I don’t care I’m going to love you until my name reverts to a word.’ Hell is Earth, these poems seem to proclaim, inside the mind, inside the television, within the simulacrum, through language itself: ‘All day clinging to ghastly seaweed on the naked internet ocean.’ Where does one find meaning when meaning is tired of us? What can the ‘difficult words / in the crowded mouth of hope’ even teach us ‘if everything’s a mouth’? Things to Do in Hell brings all these contradictions together, suggesting that even if all we have in the end is our restless inquisitiveness, we take it and we run!” —Roy Guzmán
“The opening incantation to Chris Martin’s new collection causes a tear in the very fabric of our ritualized quotidian. Lyrical disruptions shock the imperatives as the speakers in the poems pursue the ordinary in a miraculous time. But the miraculous resides within the uncertainty of our contemporary state of being, humming in the low thrum of background noise. In singing and singeing lines, Martin critiques and adores. The multitudinous riches presented in this engaging book are vast and stretch deep into our psyches. Pleasure is a deep and syncopated virtue in Things to Do in Hell, while the wisdom of this collection provides a constant and needed nudge.” —Oliver de la Paz
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.” —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
“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
“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