Spotlight #17 : Amelia Martens

Curated by Canadian writer, editor and publisher rob mclennan, the “spotlight” series appears the first Monday of every month.

Author Statement:

I process the world through poetry. Writing lets me think, it keeps me buoyant, it helps me to breathe. There is so much beauty and terror — a constant thrum, that I need the space of the page to work through to the quiet, to the field where I can look up into a dark sky and be a human being on Earth in the 21st century. I also have a deep-seeded need to be understood — to connect; I want to know that someone feels this too, someone I may never meet — may laugh or weep or smile, because in this poem, I have captured an elusive emotion, a truth of our surreal world, an acknowledgment that this life — this is happening and we are in it. Sometimes it’s good to be alone, but together in the knowing. I want to make art that shifts the normal lenses we’ve internalized, that lets everything slide askew — a little more towards awe, with room for action.

Two poems

A Fat Baby Chews Plastic

Our reaction to otherness says so much about us; the space we take up in an elevator, or as we wait on the subway platform. Who jumps down to the tracks and why. A ballet dancer. The baby pulls his shoes off and chews them. A woman in Texas teaches her two children a lesson: the windows don’t roll down if the key is removed from the ignition. The woman goes to prison, but where is the father and isn’t he also implicated in this warming. The baby chews his fingers and rolls a dandelion with his toes. The sunlight our bodies block: something else might have had cause to grow here.

Dear People of the Near Future

We do not yet have those flying cars, but we are
dismantling memorials by floodlight, under cover
of dark. We have construction crews in flak jackets
and their helmets gleam like black holes.
While the city people sleep, a white obelisk falls
and the sound is a deep sigh that almost
no one hears, though it moves the curtains
and causes the dog to turn around three times.
We live in fear. We do not hover, but dwell here.

Amelia Martens is the author of The Spoons in the Grass are There To Dig a Moat (Sarabande Books, 2016), and three chapbooks: Purgatory (Black Lawrence Press, 2012), Clatter (Floating Wolf Quarterly, 2013), and A Series of Faults (Finishing Line Press, 2014). Her work has earned support from the Kentucky Foundation for Women, the Kentucky Arts Council, and Rivendell Writers’ Colony. She met her husband in the Indiana University MFA program; together they have created the Rivertown Reading Series, Exit 7: A Journal of Literature and Art, and two awesome daughters.