On 2.12.2019, Unsolicited Press excitedly released a local Portlander's poetry collection. Carolyn Martin's A Penchant for Masquerades is Carolyn Martin’s fourth poetry collection that takes an unflinching look at the fluidity of truth, time, identity, history, death, and relationships.
Martin time-travels with Neanderthals, Lucy, and Big Foot to 9/11 to the future collapse of a holographic universe. She mines scientific discoveries, nursery rhymes, biblical characters, and the works of Issa, Horace, Yeats, Frost, Williams, Szymborska, and Collins in poems that are both playful and thought-provoking.
If you could cook dinner for any author, dead or alive, who would it be? What would you make?
Since I wouldn’t subject anyone to my cooking, I’d take Wislawa Szymborska, the 1996 winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature, to the Portland, OR restaurant of her choice. I admire this wise, brave, brilliant poet whose subtle subversity enabled her to confront political oppression in her native Poland through poems that are sharp-witted, intellectually astute, and moving.
What scares you the most about the writing process? How do you combat your fears?
The only thing that scares me is the fleeting thought that the next poem will never arrive. I combat it by laughing at myself because this has never happened. Poems appear when they are ready.
Who is your biggest literary crush, author or character?
Of the many, my choice in this moment is Ann Patchett for her brilliant novel Bel Canto.
The unforgettable characters are beautifully rendered and the political context for the plot is engaging and moving. Patchett makes you feel empathy for the capturers as well as the captured.
What books are on your nightstand?
Less by Andrew Sean Greer, Love and Ruin by Paula McClain, Nonrequired Reading by Wislawa Szymborska.
Where do you get your ideas? What inspires you?
Nature, travel, other authors, of course. But I’ve also learned to chase inspiration by keeping files of quotations and articles from any discipline that catch my attention. I read works on science, art, music, cosmology, and world religions to find images and ideas that will enrich my work. I remember reading articles that claim the sun rings like a bell, that North America moves closer to Japan by three inches each year, and that there’s a species of frog that listens with its mouth. Each of these images delighted me and worked their way into poems.
Favorite punctuation mark? Why?
The question mark because it opens readers to possibilities beyond what I would hope they understand. It’s an open invitation to think beyond the poem.
What book were you supposed to read in high school, but never did?
Being a good Catholic student in a Catholic high school, I read everything assigned.
What inanimate object would you thank in your acknowledgements?
My point-and-click Sony digital camera. It reminds me to look more closely at the world outside me. I see things more intensely when I carry a camera.
Why do you write? The first 5 words that come to mind. Go.
Joy, hope, fun, challenge, satisfaction.
If you could write an inspirational quote on the mirrors of aspiring writers, what would you write?
“To be great one must seem so, and seeming that goes on for a lifetime is no different from reality.” – William Butler Yeats.
About the Author
From associate professor of English to management trainer to retiree, Carolyn Martin has journeyed from New Jersey to Oregon to discover Douglas firs, months of rain, and dry summers. Her poems and book reviews have appeared in publications throughout North America and the UK including “Stirring,” “Naugatuck River Review,” “CALYX,” “The Curlew,” and “Antiphon.” Her third collection, Thin Places, was released by Kelsay Books in 2017. She is currently the poetry editor of Kosmos Quarterly, journal for global transformation.
Find out more about Martin's book here.