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“Chris Martin . . . takes the O’Hara city poet eye in his own direction, showing a sweet vision for the distance between public and private spaces.”—Jacket American Music, selected by C. D. Wright from over one thousand manuscripts as winner of the Hayden Carruth Award for New and Emerging Poets, is uniquely attuned to the feedback symphony of a modern city, the lyrical pro “Chris Martin . . . takes the O’Hara city poet eye in his own direction, showing a sweet vision for the distance between public and private spaces.”—Jacket American Music, selected by C. D. Wright from over one thousand manuscripts as winner of the Hayden Carruth Award for New and Emerging Poets, is uniquely attuned to the feedback symphony of a modern city, the lyrical product of “an earnest rage born of the absurd.” Chris Martin’s poems reflect all things found in the urban environment: asphalt, subways, technology, strangers, the drudgery of work, the garbage trucks and open parks, fist fights and snapshots, fears and paranoia, loves and joys. Here is the constant sense of life hurtling forward without the time to reflect, within a city rife with opportunities: “I can practically / Hear all those words out / There amassing to make the journey / Inward.” American Music is a jostling of the senses; a decadent descent into the throbbing of a metropolitan world filled with familiar but yet unresolved queries: . . . it strikes me That every person in every passenger Seat in every car in Every town in every country Is having some goddamn Thought—this is mine. Chris Martin is a rapper, teacher, and editor of Puppy Flowers, an online magazine of the arts. He holds an MA in poetry, performance, and education from the Gallatin School of Individualized Study at New York University. He lives in Brooklyn.


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“Chris Martin . . . takes the O’Hara city poet eye in his own direction, showing a sweet vision for the distance between public and private spaces.”—Jacket American Music, selected by C. D. Wright from over one thousand manuscripts as winner of the Hayden Carruth Award for New and Emerging Poets, is uniquely attuned to the feedback symphony of a modern city, the lyrical pro “Chris Martin . . . takes the O’Hara city poet eye in his own direction, showing a sweet vision for the distance between public and private spaces.”—Jacket American Music, selected by C. D. Wright from over one thousand manuscripts as winner of the Hayden Carruth Award for New and Emerging Poets, is uniquely attuned to the feedback symphony of a modern city, the lyrical product of “an earnest rage born of the absurd.” Chris Martin’s poems reflect all things found in the urban environment: asphalt, subways, technology, strangers, the drudgery of work, the garbage trucks and open parks, fist fights and snapshots, fears and paranoia, loves and joys. Here is the constant sense of life hurtling forward without the time to reflect, within a city rife with opportunities: “I can practically / Hear all those words out / There amassing to make the journey / Inward.” American Music is a jostling of the senses; a decadent descent into the throbbing of a metropolitan world filled with familiar but yet unresolved queries: . . . it strikes me That every person in every passenger Seat in every car in Every town in every country Is having some goddamn Thought—this is mine. Chris Martin is a rapper, teacher, and editor of Puppy Flowers, an online magazine of the arts. He holds an MA in poetry, performance, and education from the Gallatin School of Individualized Study at New York University. He lives in Brooklyn.

30 review for American Music

  1. 4 out of 5

    C.A.

    These poems are BEAUTIFUL! And I had the pleasure of hearing some of them read by the author recently. He AMAZED us with a rap poem which included something from each poem/title, truly an original! I would buy this book again and again if I could read it without remembering having read it each time, but you can't. Once you read it, you always remember it, it's that good! These poems are BEAUTIFUL! And I had the pleasure of hearing some of them read by the author recently. He AMAZED us with a rap poem which included something from each poem/title, truly an original! I would buy this book again and again if I could read it without remembering having read it each time, but you can't. Once you read it, you always remember it, it's that good!

  2. 5 out of 5

    Michael Lindgren

    With this lively debut collection Chris Martin establishes himself as a young poet with an arresting voice. American Music is a series of light-stepping meditations on city life that manage to be both profound and playful, with an unpretentious freshness that sets it apart from the usual hipster-in-the-city banalities. Like all true New Yorkers, Martin comes from somewhere else — in his case, Colorado Springs by way of St. Paul -- and like many before him, he finds New York City a fecund source o With this lively debut collection Chris Martin establishes himself as a young poet with an arresting voice. American Music is a series of light-stepping meditations on city life that manage to be both profound and playful, with an unpretentious freshness that sets it apart from the usual hipster-in-the-city banalities. Like all true New Yorkers, Martin comes from somewhere else — in his case, Colorado Springs by way of St. Paul -- and like many before him, he finds New York City a fecund source of inspiration and wonder. Martin’s most immediately identifiable literary predecessor would be the Frank O’Hara of the City Poems era. As in O’Hara, the narrative content of the poems is aggressively unremarkable: the poet is saddened by the animals during a visit to the zoo, distracted by interloping teenagers during a Chelsea gallery jaunt, and excited by pretty girls, it seems, almost everywhere — but it is Martin’s unlikely perceptions and inventive language, the effortless leap from the specific detail to the universal truth, that transcends the quotidian details. On the subway “every winking turn traps / You into thinking that life / Is a meticulous plot dimly allotted / To you alone”; a wrong number “Has not stopped / Me from feeling a consequent / Note among many.” The blur of happenstance and sensory overkill becomes the raw material of verse. Stylistically, the author has found a form that is both distinctive and austere, as all the poems consist of fourteen to twenty-six unrhymed tercets, ending with a single long line. It’s a good armature, simple and flexible: the tercets are rhythmically supple, and the closing line, as with a sonnet, gives each poem a pleasing note of finality or of questioning. It takes admirable discipline for the author to stick with this one form for the duration of a full-length book, but such restraint gives the verse an organic transparency — an uncluttered directness of expression — and the volume benefits from its smooth uniformity of form and internal consistency. The true appeal of these poems is located in the way the observation of gritty realities can serve as a springboard for abstract and metaphyscial considerations that would not be out of place in the work of Wallace Stevens. In “I Am No Proprioceptivist,” for example, the sight of a man pissing into a trash can leads the poet to contemplate how “to be a thing / That is, that organizes other / Things into its own harmony / Or discord…” Martin has a well-tuned ear and a sprightly wit, and the poems’ compactness and conversational vernacular allow them to wear their philosophical underpinnings and occasionally slightly-daft speculations very lightly indeed. American Music is a superior piece of writing, and Chris Martin is a welcome addition to the ever-expanding roster of contemporary poets. From Rain Taxi, Spring 2008

  3. 4 out of 5

    Heather Gibbons

    The only thing that kept this from getting four stars from me is that every single poem in the collection is written in tercets of short lines. Now, Martin does wonderful things in many poems, and some of those wonderful effects come out of and are made possible by his use of this formal device. However, I just can't take a book of poems that are _all_ in the same form unless they're from a poet with extraordinary tonal range and/or rare wisdom and insight. Martin has insight and humor and a gre The only thing that kept this from getting four stars from me is that every single poem in the collection is written in tercets of short lines. Now, Martin does wonderful things in many poems, and some of those wonderful effects come out of and are made possible by his use of this formal device. However, I just can't take a book of poems that are _all_ in the same form unless they're from a poet with extraordinary tonal range and/or rare wisdom and insight. Martin has insight and humor and a great sense of voice and these poems are rangy in the sense of landscape and scope, but he's just not mastering this form in a way that justifies s formal consistency so unrelenting as to become, finally, a distraction.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Christina M Rau

    I started reading and started to get annoyed by the last stanza. Every poem ends with a single line stanza. As I kept reading, the annoyance melted away and I got into the groove of interesting images and fun wordplay and use of big words I've never heard of that I have to look up. A lot of city scenes. A lot of allusions to other works. I started reading and started to get annoyed by the last stanza. Every poem ends with a single line stanza. As I kept reading, the annoyance melted away and I got into the groove of interesting images and fun wordplay and use of big words I've never heard of that I have to look up. A lot of city scenes. A lot of allusions to other works.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Shappi

    There were lovely moments in here, though I found myself focusing more on those moments than on the poems overall. there was something at once a little too structured (in terms of form) and a little too rambling (in terms of content).

  6. 5 out of 5

    Zach

    Lord are those enjambments tight. I love the element of other voices as well.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Rita

    Form felt constricted and didn't reflect the freedom of content. Could have been improved with my variety. Interesting ideas on New York nativism though. Form felt constricted and didn't reflect the freedom of content. Could have been improved with my variety. Interesting ideas on New York nativism though.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Farren

    Garbage.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Andrew Hughes

  10. 5 out of 5

    Gary

  11. 5 out of 5

    Patrick

  12. 4 out of 5

    Tegan

  13. 5 out of 5

    Carly

  14. 5 out of 5

    Esther

  15. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

  16. 4 out of 5

    Kendra

  17. 5 out of 5

    Wes

  18. 5 out of 5

    Daniel Nester

  19. 5 out of 5

    Charlene

  20. 4 out of 5

    Matthew

  21. 5 out of 5

    Riley Cavanaugh

  22. 5 out of 5

    Courtney

  23. 4 out of 5

    Emily Pettit

  24. 5 out of 5

    Ashkan Ashkan

  25. 5 out of 5

    Anselm

  26. 5 out of 5

    Jared

  27. 5 out of 5

    Martha

  28. 4 out of 5

    Jake Adam

  29. 4 out of 5

    Michael

  30. 4 out of 5

    yasekabood

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