With so much going on, I completely forgot to post this back in March. My image, “Indietro”, was chosen for the Rattle Ekphrastic Challenge in February. Here it is accompanied by Stephanie Shlachtman’s poem “They Tried to Cover Her Up“, which was my pick as artist. The other winning poem, chosen by editor Tim Green, was Mary Ann Honecker’s “When Peeled Back“. Both poems are mind-bending responses to the image, which is a photograph of a billboard in Perugia I snapped outside my daughter’s school.
Of course, February seems like aeons ago. My daughter hasn’t been to her school since around the time the image was open for submissions. These poems come from what was perhaps the final phase of life before COVID-19 took control of us and altered the narrative. The billboard, like so much else from before the flood, is gone now. All that remains is the art it inspired.
It was a pleasure to have been a guest on last night’s Rattlecast with editor Tim Green. I tried not to think about the fact that my episode is bookended by poets such as Dorianne Laux (#44) and Sonia Greenfield (#46). But there it is. With Tim’s okay, I just wanted to let it rip with little or no premeditation. Maybe it’s kind of raw at points, though I hope I managed to say one or two things of general interest to listeners besides just reading my poems. I’ve only given three readings in my life before this, so cut me some slack!
Big news! I’ll be appearing on Rattle‘s Rattlecast #45 on June 9, 2020 at 3pm EST. I’ll be reading from Unburial and talking with Rattle editor Tim Green about poetry and whatever else comes up. Tune in to the livestream on YouTube. The Facebook event is here if you’d like more information.
I’m sure I’ll never do another reading quite this awesome in all my days. Somehow I shared a stage in Rome with Dora Malech, John Murillo, Nicole Sealey and Will Schutt. Don’t ask how, but it went down on January 2, 2020 (today is the ultra-rare Palindrome Day – 02/02/2020 – which hasn’t happened in 900 years and won’t again for another thousand), already a month ago, and I’m just now getting around to posting the audio I made of the event for the sake of posterity. Let’s say the quality is ‘bootleg’. But here it is, in all its ragged glory. Special thanks to Moira Egan for making the connections. Rome is magical like no other place on earth.
I’m pleased to announce I’ll be reading with Dora Malech, John Murillo, Will Schutt and Nicole Sealey at Otherwise/Altroquando Bookshop on January 2, 2020. If you’re in or near Rome for the New Year, swing on by and say hi, have a beer and hear some def poetry.
Saturday, Dec. 7 I’m doing a book launch for Unburial at the Anglo American Book in Rome – with Moira Egan! If you’re in the area, come on by and say hello.
Anglo American Book – Via della Vite 102 (Piazza di Spagna) – 6pm
Come hear poetry by American poets Marc Alan Di Martino & Moira Egan read from their recent books Unburial (Kelsay Books) and Synaesthesium (New Criterion Prize) at the historic Anglo American Book (Est.1953) near the Spanish Steps in Rome, Italy.
Marc Alan Di Martino is a Pushcart-nominated poet and author of the collection Unburial (Kelsay Books, 2019). His work appears in Rattle, Rivet Journal, Baltimore Review, Palette Poetry and many other journals, as well as the anthologies Unsheathed: 24 Contemporary Poets Take Up the Knife (Kingly Street Press, 2019) and What Remains: The Many Ways We Say Goodbye (Gelles-Cole, 2019). He lives in Perugia, Italy.
Moira Egan’s most recent collections are Synæsthesium (The New Criterion Poetry Prize, 2017) and Olfactorium (Italic Pequod, 2018). Her poems, prose, and translations have appeared in journals and anthologies on four continents. She teaches Creative Writing at St. Stephen’s School in Rome.
I’d almost forgotten – well, not really, I just have little time – to mention the anthology Unsheathed: 24 Contemporary Poets Take up the Knife, which came out in October, on almost the same day as UNBURIAL. The anthology is edited by Betsy Mars, and is a collection of original poems inspired by an offhand line of mine, “Knives cut both bread and throats.” Betsy and I were chatting about social media, its virtues and its drawbacks, and I fired off a line she liked. We exchanged poems beginning with the line, and Betsy liked the idea of an anthology so much she even started her own publishing imprint, Kingly Street Press, to make it happen.
Here is my contribution to the anthology:
Knives cut both bread and throats
tongues and fruit, a length of rope
to fashion both knot and noose.
A blade can scissor hope,
whittle back bone, crack
skull, scrape out the pulp
from teeth then sign its name
in flesh soft as an apricot.
It is a weapon, and is not.
I’m thrilled to have an interview up at Frontier Poetryabout the making of Unburial. (Said that way, it sounds like a horror film.) There are few things more interesting than the process of making something, in my eyes: be it a painting, a poem or a photograph. Everything has a story behind it; everything is, in the end, a result of a lucky point in space and time when the right combination of factors happen to converge. Change one of the variables and the whole thing could be wiped away like fingerprints on a pane of glass.
What were the toughest moments you faced while getting the collection to the world and what have you taken away from them?
My poem “Requiem for an Ocean Burial” has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize by the anthology What Remains: The Many Ways We Say Goodbye! The poem was originally published in Palette Poetry, where it was read by one of the editors of the anthology, who apparently thinks enough of it to have chosen it as one of the six nominees for this year.
Now I’ve never really won anything before, other than a few BMX trophies when I was a kid. In poetry I’ve had an honorable-mention or two, but I’ve almost stopped entering contests because it ends up being a lot of money thrown at the wind. Which is one reason I’m over the moon about this — because I wasn’t actively seeking it out. Someone somewhere thought it was worth nominating for a prize, and did. Whether or not the poem wins this or any other prize is irrelevant to me. S’iz genug. This is enough.
My gratitude goes out to Josh Roark at Palette Poetry and Kenneth Salzmann at What Remains for this honor. You can read the poem here.
Six months passed from acceptance to publication of my first book. If you’d asked me last year how to go about organizing a manuscript of original poetry, I’d have looked at you with squirrel’s eyes. But I worked at it and, as with most things, hard work is like a flashlight in the fog – it gets you through thick and thin. I’ve learned a lot along the way about the small-press publishing industry as well – a few useful dos and don’ts, let’s say. Now it’s in the hands of its readers.
If you’re interested in purchasing a copy, it’s available through your local Amazon distributor. If you like the book, please consider rating it or writing a short review of it at said-distributor’s website, as I have limited marketing resources. Or, if you don’t want to splurge, ask your local library or bookshop if they can order a copy for their poetry section. This, alas, is the flipside of the publishing coin – you have to find a way to get your hard-won words in front of other people’s eyes. And there, they might once have said, isthe rub.