While you were out, Dick Martin has engineered a prosimetrum, alternating stories and poems, without the usual building permits and bribes. Chapter & Verse is as satisfying as the historical district’s other prosimetrum Spring and All and much more friendly than In Parenthesis. Martin himself alternates between his role as the American Gogol (see Chapter 3 and the Pile) or the zany postmod poet still at large Richard Martin. Among the stories are two masterpieces—Chapters 1 (“Mrs. Ezra Pound asked me…,” begins the PaleFireesque) and 19 (dialogs of the pothole philosophers Matt and Monk)—but my favorite is Chapter 21 (Harry agonists).
The book is too good to be legal. Dick Martin’s lawless imagination consumes language at an alarming rate, seemingly heedless of conserving a literary future, and leaving in its wake reality-induced characters like drugs for addicts. (“Come on, let’s get unreal.”) Chapter & Verse is addicting, like good reading. The crowd of characters could describe your section for a night game at Fenway: Beau Smith and Zygote, Pauline Silvernail and Marty Schnitzel, Penelope Dee Slimwhall and Dusty Figure-Head. I understand the FBI considers Pastor Bombshell a person of interest. The CDC is investigating the toothbrush use reported in Chapter 16. And the DEA (Chapter 23) and MeToo (Chapter 20) are seriously looking into this Dick Martin person.
Chapter & Verse is required reading for the pandemic world. They were coming to take him away, when Nijinsky dashed this off, on the final page of his Diary:
“My little girl is singing: ‘Ah ah ah ah.’ I do not understand its meaning, but I feel what she wants to say. She wants to say that everything is not horror, but joy.”
There is so much joy in Dick Martin’s writing.
—Richard Blevins, author of The Art of the Serial Poem
Richard Martin’s most recent books of poetry are Ceremony of the Unknown (Spuyten Duyvil, 2020) and Goosebumps of Antimatter (Spuyten Duyvil, 2018). He is the author of four chapbooks from Igneus Press: Hard Labor (2019), Cosmic Sandbox (2019), Sighting Icarus (2020), Hobo Return (2021). Martin is a past recipient of the NEA Fellowship for Poetry, founder of the Big Horror Poetry Series (Binghamton, NY, 1983-1996) and a retired Boston Public Schools principal. He lives in Boston with his family.